- Original design
- Herbert Austen-Hall, Clifford Wearden, 1956
The 2017 programme is now past. We will be launching the 2018 programme in July.
“The rebuilding of Carpenters' Hall creates a unique opportunity for the demonstration of the craft that the Company has represented in its long history, and it is, therefore, desirable that the new Hall should display the latest techniques of the trade and also give a lead to future development in design.”
Carpenters' Hall Re-building Committee,
27 February 1956
Much of the City of London was destroyed during an air raid on the night of 10 May 1941, including Carpenters' Hall which was wrecked by fire caused by a landmine falling into London Wall and igniting the gas mains. A Committee for the re-building of Carpenters' Hall was appointed in 1950, with Herbert Austen Hall FRIBA of Whinney, Son & Austen Hall the chosen architect, and Dove Brothers of Islington the builders. The architect Clifford Wearden was appointed to design the new Banqueting Hall. The new building formally opened in May 1960.
Re-building Carpenters' Hall was a challenging prospect. Building materials were still subject to rationing for much of the period and there were several potentially conflicting interests. The Company wanted more accommodation than the Second Hall had provided, both for its own use and also to generate revenue from office lettings. The Corporation of London wanted to widen London Wall, ideally with the removal of the Hall. The damaged Hall itself was still listed as being of architectural interest although only the external walls remained.
It was decided to build a steel framed structure within the old walls, enabling the new floors to be at levels different to those in the original building. The Third Hall, therefore, has two floors more than its predecessor plus two storeys of offices constructed at the top of the building, concealed from view by stone balustrading. To satisfy the Corporation's needs, London Wall was widened to the former front of the Hall and the pavement brought inside the Hall walls by way of an arcade. Loss of space on the ground floor was offset by a bridge built over Throgmorton Avenue carrying part of the Banqueting Hall.
The interior design was carefully chosen. There was no real desire to recreate the second Hall, instead the Company relished the opportunity to commission a modern, functional building. It was emphasized that the Hall should be a showcase for the craft of carpentry. The architect suggested a progressive development from the formal Entrance Hall (decorated traditionally in order to blend in with the Victorian exterior) through to the more modern designs used in the Banqueting Hall. A further consideration for the interior design was that the Company lacked the funding to decorate the Hall to the high standard desired. Parts of the building work were therefore arranged to be completed at a later stage.
Herbert Austin Hall (1872-1968) was a past President of the Architectural Association. He is associated with the post-war design of several livery halls, primarily the re-building of Carpenters' and Clothworkers' Halls, but also the interior and north part of Fishmongers' Hall and an extension to Drapers' Hall.
The architect of the Banqueting Hall Clifford Wearden (b.1920) worked with Sir Basil Spence before establishing his own practice, Clifford Wearden & Associates.
Rooms on view today are the formal function rooms: the Entrance, Court Room, Reception and Banqueting Hall.
Summary of woods used in the Hall:
Main doors: Teak inset with eight panels ornamented with the leaves, fruit and flowers of the trees from which they were carved: Sycamore, Holly, Pine, Yew, Cedar, Oak, Walnut, Elm.
Panelling: Oak and Figured Teak
Panelling: Burr Oak and Burr Walnut
Door: Australian Walnut
Panelling: Figured Teak
Wainscott: Utile Mahogany
Floor: Zimbabwean Teak
Panelling: Crown Elm – Utile
Main doors: Teak surround with infills of Bubinga and Macassar Ebony
THE ENTRANCE HALL
The teak outer doors weigh over four hundred-weight each and hold eight panels carved by James Woodford OBE, from designs by the Clerk of the Company, Henry Carl Osborne.
The hall panelling is primarily oak veneer with names of the Masters of the Company from 1457.
Thirteen roundels by Jean Clark (1902-1999) depict events in the history of the Company.
A 1791 coade stone panel of the Company’s coat of arms, almost certainly originally from the entrance of the first Hall, was rescued from a former pub in Shepperton demolished in 1987.
Tudor wall paintings from the first Hall (probably 1562) illustrate Biblical scenes representing carpentry. The artist’s identity is not known, although perhaps originally from the Low Countries.
Company archives: Ordinances of 1607, Grant of Arms of 1466, Licence to hold land, 1680 (all in English); Company rent roll for 1684, George VI supplemental Charter of 1944 and an illuminated address presented to HRH Prince Charles on his admission as Honorary Liveryman.
The War memorial designed by Sir Banister Fletcher (Master, 1936) is to Company members killed in World Wars One & Two.
The Plan of London and Westminster at the beginning of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I is an imprint from George Vertue’s plan of 1737, unusual in being hand-coloured.
The furniture includes two iron chests (purchased 1558), a 17th century oak elbow chair with a panelled back and carved walnut framed mirror by Georgy Mkrtichian.
THE COURT ROOM (right, off the Entrance Hall)
Panelled in burr oak veneer (wide panels) and burr walnut veneer (narrow panels) with a dado rail and doors made of Australian walnut.
A painting of 1912 by Sir Frank Brangwyn RA (1867-1956) in an acanthus leaf carved oak frame depicts a 17th century Master of the Company boarding a barge to join the Lord Mayor’s Show. The portraits depict William Willmer Pocock, Master, 1883 and architect of the Second Hall, by James Godsell Middleton (op. 1826-1872) and two Company Clerks – Richard Webb Jupp (1798-1852) c.1848, artist unknown, and Joseph Hutton Freeman (also Master, 1935) by George Hall Neale (1863-1940).
In each corner are the Company’s 17th century Royal Charters (in Latin): James I (1607), Charles I (1640), Charles II (1674) and James II (1686).
On the east wall are three carved Harpers’ panels in oak (1579) from the first Hall’s parlour. Thomas Harper was the Company’s Master and his name is shown by the symbol of a harp and number ‘4’. The Wardens’ initials appear on the right hand panel. Furniture includes an octagonal oak table dated 1606 carved with the initials of the Master and Wardens of that year, and an 18th century longcase calendar clock by John Ellicott of London Wall (1706-1772). The huge mahogany Master’s Chair by John Linnell dates from the mid 18th century and is still used by Company Masters to preside over their Court.
Of geometric design, part panelled in teak.
The steps are of oak and the wrought iron balustrading has a mahogany handrail. At the foot is a bronze statuette, The Awakening by Liveryman Charles Hartwell and a portrait of Sir Cuthbert Ackroyd, Past Master and Lord Mayor of London in 1955 by Eric Kennington (1888-1960).
The stained glass Bernays window (1970) is a memorial to Past Master E. Bernays (Master 1941,1942) by Lawrence Lee (1909-2011, Master of the Glaziers’ Company 1973). At the top of the staircase is a Carrara marble nude ‘The Joy of Life’ by Charles Rutland RA (1858-1943).
The ship’s bell is from HMS NORFOLK, a Type 23 frigate affiliated to the Company and decommissioned in 2005.
THE RECEPTION ROOM
The walls are part panelled with mahogany. The chandeliers are specially designed Georgian style cut-glass. The smaller pair of Chippendale style mirrors has been in the Company’s possession since the building of the Second Hall, if not earlier. Three windows contain modern stained glass panels of coats of arms of members of the Court.
The Caesar Augustus Panel is a high relief wood-carving by Master Carver Shane Raven completed in 2005 in natural lime wood.
Paintings: ‘Some of Mr George Faith’s Fleet 1806’, Thomas Luny (1759-1837). The shipowner was the father of George Faith, Master in 1861; ‘The Banqueting Hall, June 1927’ by Sir John Lavery RA (1856-1951). Honorary Liveryman HM Queen Juliana of the Netherlands by Sierk Schroder (1903-2002). Three 17th century portraits of carpenters: William Portington, attributed to Emanuel Decritz (c.1605-1665); Richard Wyatt, Master of the Company 1604, 1605 and 1616, artist unknown (Wyatt founded the Company’s almshouses at Godalming in Surrey); John Scott, 1658, artist unknown.
Furniture includes: an inlaid vari-wood table by Liveryman George Pysden (1917- 2008), an early 18th century walnut longcase clock by Edward Bagshaw (1681-1722).
THE BANQUETING HALL
Designed by Clifford Wearden (b.1920). Wearden worked for Sir Basil Spence (architect of Coventry Cathedral) - Spence’s influence is evident. The side walls are panelled in alternate patterns of plain and decorative surfaces in crown elm and utile mahogany. The octagonal pattern cedar ceiling was designed to ‘float’ beneath a dark blue upper ceiling. The hardwood strip floor is Zimbabwean teak.
The two large windows (1988-1991) in the extension over Throgmorton Avenue were designed by Alfred Fisher, with reveals carved by James Woodford. The Company window (left) depicts tools of the craft; the City window (right) shows City landmarks and regalia.
Along the eastern wall of the Hall is a Musicians’ Gallery.
The teak Tree of Life was carved by Sir Charles Wheeler RA (1892-1974) in 1966. He also designed the Tree’s vari-wood marquetry background and the display case for Company plate.
On the walls are 19th and 20th century portraits of Liverymen who served as Lord Mayors of London, Members of Parliament, Aldermen or Sheriffs, including three members of the Lawrence family & Sir William Staines holding a letter announcing peace with France in 1801.
The silk banner (1911) painted with the Company’s Arms was given to the City to be hung in Guildhall Old Library and returned in 1995. The Hall seats up to 240 people and is used for private hire as well as Company functions.