- Original design
- T Tayler-Smith, 1888
The 2018 programme is now past. We will be launching the 2019 programme 20 August at 10am GMT
The Worshipful Company of Cutlers in the City of London is one of the most ancient of the City livery companies and received its first Royal Charter from Henry V in 1416. As was the case with the other trade guilds of the day, its function was to protect the interests of its members, to attend to their welfare, and to ensure that high standards of quality were maintained. Their business was producing and trading in knives, swords, and other implements with a cutting edge.
For nearly 400 years the Cutlers were settled in a series of buildings in what is now Cloak Lane but in 1882 the site was compulsorily purchased to build Cannon Street Station. The present Hall here in Warwick Lane came into use in March 1888. The front-of-house has been carefully preserved in its original presentation.
On the outside wall will be seen a finely carved terracotta frieze by the Sheffield sculptor Benjamin Creswick (1853-1946).
The frieze shows cutlers working at their craft. Creswick was a pupil of John Ruskin and had worked as a grinder in Sheffield. He exhibited frequently at the Royal Academy, but few examples of his work survive.
Immediately the visitor is facing the fine full-length portrait of John Torr Foulds, Master of the Company in 1801. As an engineer, he was commissioned to bring running water to the City of London. Also on the left of the entrance hall is a painting of the Feast of the Boar’s Head (from the Scandinavian celebration of the Yool or Yule) that is held annually in December. Some of the diners depicted are the direct predecessors of current members
The stained glass window on the left of the entrance hall was erected in memory of Captain F. G. Boot, a great benefactor of the Company and today as part of our portfolio of charity giving, we award traveling scholarships in his name. The top centre panel depicts Henry V granting the original Charter in 1416 to the elders of the guild. The remaining panels represent the various processes involved in making swords and knives.
The ‘Court’ of a livery company today is the board of management but in times gone by they held a powerful grip on the trade in the City. In extremis they could grant or deny permission for a man to ply his trade as a cutler. As late as 1953, apprentices would appear before the Court in this room to show examples of their work and be admitted to the trade. Around the walls of the Court Room are portraits of five members of the Company who have served as Lord Mayor of the City of London.
In the adjoining Dining Room over the fireplace hangs a 16th century portrait (oil on oak panel) of Margaret Craythorne, the widow of John Craythorne, who was Master in 1560.
On the wall at the foot of the stairs is a display of restoration-period and Georgian spoons and ladles made by members of the Company. Above it is a fine oak carving of the Company’s Coat of Arms – the elephant with castle. It is dated 1569 and is among the few relics which survived the Great Fire of London in 1666.
Historic examples of English sword making through the ages from 1370 to the present day are displayed around the landing, from the Black Prince to Elizabeth II’s jubilee.
The glory of the Livery Hall is the huge Victorian hammer beam roof with its 14 carved elephant heads and fine examples of wrought-iron electroliers. Among the exhibits on display are:
Portraits of Queen Anne and King William III by Kneller
The Barge Banner (1763) of Lord Mayor and Cutler Ald. Bridgen
Modern sword making by Pooley Sword Ltd
The British Fencing Association
An introduction to our charitable activities and our military affiliations
Cutlers’ Hall and The Blitz
Treasures from the Company’s vaults
Adjacent to the Livery Hall is our extensive collection of cutlery – regarded as one of the finest outside of the V&A.
The collection ranges from Stone Age tools to the cutlery of today, from inexpensive mass produced knives to exquisite items of gold and ivory encrusted with jewels. It is particularly rich in fine continental cutlery of the 17th and 18th centuries.