The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 26 From St Paul's Cathedral to the Bank of England

Guildhall Museum

Previous - Next

The Guildhall Museum OF LONDON ANTIQUITIES (open free on week-days, 10 to 4 or 5) occupies the basement floor beneath the library and is usually entered from Basinghall St. It contains an interesting collection of Roman and other antiquities found within the City of London. In the vestibule are a model of the Lord Mayor's state barge (1807) and a gun from the 'Lutine'. The Roman Antiquities (chiefly near the north end of the museum) include a mosaic pavement from Bucklersbury, 20 feet long (found in 1869); a hexagonal column dedicated by Anencletus to his wife Claudia Martina (found in Ludgate Hill); a group of the Deï¾µ Matres (headless) from Crutched Friars; a statue of a warrior from the Roman Wall; several sculptured stones from the bastions of the same wall; 'camp-sheathing' of oak found beneath Bow Church; and innumerable smaller antiquities. Among the Medieval Antiquities is a very interesting collection of old shop and tavern signs, including those of the Boar's Head in Eastcheap (1668) and the Bull and Mouth in Angel St., Aldersgate St. Several cases contain old English pottery and glass (e.g. the glass 'yard of ale,' in a case at the south end of the hall). The figures of Raving and Melancholy Madness, in the south-east corner, are by C. G. Cibber (1680), and once decorated the entrance of Bedlam. On the north pillar of the west arcade are the whipping-post, waist-bands, manacles, and other instruments brought from the 'Black Museum' at Newgate in 1902. A case near the middle of the room contains the sword surrendered to Lord Nelson by Admiral Blanquet at the battle of the Nile (1799), together with an autograph letter of Nelson. The small collection of Elizabethan and Jacobean jewellery, found in Friday St. in 1912, is notable for its beautiful workmanship. A door on the west side of the museum leads to the CRYPT, a very interesting survival of the building of 1411-35. The Eastern Crypt is 77 feet long, 46 feet broad, and 13 feet high. It is borne by six clustered columns of Purbeck marble. The vaulted roof has large carved bosses at the intersection of the ribs. Among the antiquities here is a Roman sarcophagus of white marble from Clapton (4th century). The old wooden staircase near the south-west corner came from a house in New Broad Street. At the east end of the crypt are two staircases in the thickness of the walls. The West Crypt (no admission) is shut off by a dividing wall. In Basinghall St., which skirts the Guildhall on the east, are Coopers' Hall (No. 71; rebuilt in 1868) and Girdlers' Hall (No. 39; altered in 1879), which contains an Indian carpet of the time of Akbar.