In the city of London there is a rich history and tradition of Livery Companies, unbeknown to most Londoner’s but at the forefront of politics within the capital for the past 800 years, London’s Livery Companies play a very important role in the history of our great city.
In this blog post I want to introduce a little about the history of these fabulous establishments and explore the versatility as venues for corporate events.
In total there are currently 110 Livery Companies who were given the royal warrant to manage various industries on behalf of the King including Goldsmiths’, Brewers’ and Stationers’ and span many ancient professions. In the modern day the majority of Livery Companies focus their attention towards charity work.
You will have seen many of the floats taking part in the Lord Mayors parade. The livery companies always march behind the Lord Mayor in order of riches with the great 12 Livery Companies always in attendance and great rivalry would emerge over the year. Interestingly this is where the expression “at sixes and sevens” derives from Merchant Taylors Company and Skinners Company swapping places each years. Out of these 110 companies there are around 38 Livery Halls within the city of London I want to focus on three very different halls to give you an idea of the incredible variance and versatility of these venues which are inaccessible unless booked for an event.
Coopers’ Hall seems like a great place to start nestled on Devonshire Square just behind the hustle and bustle of Liverpool Street. The hall itself is a particularly elegant pre-Georgian townhouse perfect for intimate private dinners and wine tastings. The Coopers’ are makers of wine barrels so I find it a particularly fitting location for dining and events. The hall is made up of three separate rooms most uniquely I absolutely adore the museum in the basement which is a marvelous space to start the evening and has countless trinkets and livery silver awarded to the Coopers’ Company, this space holds up 50 guests. On the ground floor we have a private meeting room called the Courtroom, which is perfect for intimate boardroom meetings and has a wealth of natural daylight. On the first floor the Dining Room is the main events room where we can hold conferences, dinners and receptions overlooking the serenity of the cobbled Devonshire Square.
Haberdashers’ Hall is very different located at West Smithfield a five minute walk from St Paul’s Cathedral this is the 4th Hall and was reopened in 2002 by the Queen of England having been re-designed by Sir Michael Hopkins. The building has its own unique character but a lot of Sir Michael Hopkins classic features using high ceilings and natural daylight along with wooden panels to keep the tradition of the Livery Hall. The hall’s largest room is the dramatic Livery Hall, with its vaulted ceiling & oak-paneled walls it can accommodate 144 guests for a seated meal or 240 delegates for a presentation.
Outside the Livery Hall is our reception gallery, which is the perfect catering space for pre-dinner receptions overlooking the beautiful courtyard. There are three smaller private rooms on the 1st floor, the Court Room, Luncheon Room and Committee room which are great rooms for presentation lunches and each boast their own style and theme. Finally on the ground floor the Orangery is a very striking area, which can hold 400 people for a summer soiree and is one of the most sought-after spaces for alfresco summer receptions in the city, finished with a famous water fountain symbolising the 3 steps to joining the Haberdashers’ Company. This truly is a brilliant secret in the heart of the city.
Brewers’ Hall is one of the oldest Livery Halls having been given a royal charter by King Henry VI and holds their hall in Aldermanbury Square in Moorgate. This is a very exclusive venue hosting only one client within the building at any time and thus is ideal for confidential events. Split into three separate rooms the Livery Hall is a beautiful room with double height ceilings and large floor to ceiling windows, with a small court room beside for food service and committee room for private meetings this is a very conducive venue for conferences, banquets and receptions. Every year we find Brewers’ Hall is one of our most popular festive venues, the intimacy of this venue with the rich red carpets and oak paneled walls make for a warm atmosphere in the cold of winter.
I hope this gives an interesting insight into the livery world of London and helps you unlock the secrets and histories of London’s’ historic halls. To enquire about hiring Brewers’ Hall, Haberdashers’ Hall or Coopers’ Hall please email William Smith from ITA.