Out of all the historic buildings in London, Guildhall is one of the most overlooked. Despite being home to one of the city’s oldest surviving landmarks, tourists often miss out on what the ancient city hall has to offer.
If you’re looking to discover more about London’s history while staying at the Montcalm Hotel London City, you’re in luck. Our luxury hotels in London City are just a short journey from Guildhall.
Here’s a quick peek into the history of the iconic building so you know what to expect on your visit.
Although the building itself was built in 1440, the history of the site goes back much further than that. The history of Guildhall has roots in the Roman Empire. When Roman forces made their way over the English Channel and settled by the River Thames, they created one of the first cities in the country, Londinium. During that time, the Romans built all kinds of structures including an amphitheatre which now lays beneath Guildhall. The ancient structure has been dated back to AD43 and still offers a unique look into the history of London.
Throughout the medieval period, the site served as the location of a Saxon Guildhall. Excavations in 2000 suggested that the design of the Guildhall was based heavily on the Roman amphitheatre and was built on top of the structure’s remaining supports. During the late 12th century, the Church of St Lawrence Jewry was also built on the same site, adding to the rich historical tapestry of Guildhall. It wasn’t until 1411 that construction began on the building we know today.
During its conception, the building was considered to be well ahead of its time in terms of design and featured a series of intricate fixtures and complex levels. The main hall was connected to vast crypts, a library and a print room- all of which are still in use today. Of its kind, Guildhall is the only stone building in London that has remained standing for so long. Although, during the Great Fire, the building suffered damage and parts of it had to be restored in order to make suitable for use again.
Throughout the centuries, Guildhall has been the official home of the City of London Corporation, dealing with everything from tax issues to the creation of financial law. As the hub of power in the city, the hall has served to increase the wealth of the capital and generate trade. It has also been hosted a number of high-profile trials over the years including the prosecution of several Gunpowder Plot conspirators and a number of Catherine Howard’s lovers. You can still learn about the historic events that took place by visiting the Guildhall Museum.
Although most of the official jobs and duties involved with running the City of London Corporation have been moved to more modern office buildings, Guildhall still hosts numerous high-profile events and functions. The building is also home to a museum, gallery and library which are all open to the public.