Tour of Cutlers Hall.

14th February 2022

                                                  ALDERSGATE WARD CLUB VISIT TO CUTLERS’ HALL

Monday, 14th February 2022

 

As we arrived at Cutlers Hall for our tour, we were greeted by two guides and offered tea and coffee, in the splendid entrance hall, where chairs had been thoughtfully set out for us.

The Cutlers are one of the oldest of the City Livery Companies, but their Hall in Warwick Lane dates back only to 1888.  A "Hall of the Cutlers" was first mentioned in 1285.  The face of the current building has a terracotta frieze running along the entire frontage, depicting cutlers working at their craft.

The entrance hall contains several large portraits including one showing King Henry V granting the original Charter to the Company in 1416.  There is also a table holding the Company's ivory gavel of 1603 and the iron elephant shaped alms box dating from 1664.

Images of elephants are prominent throughout the Hall, ivory being used extensively to make handles for cutlery;  holding ivory does not cause sweaty palms.

We moved on into the Courtroom, hung with portraits of Liverymen of the Cutlers who attained the office of Lord Mayor of the City of London, of whom the Company is naturally especially proud.  A display of Company silverware was set out for us to admire, including some very large cutlery, used only to serve food at Coronation events.

Then we climbed the impressive stairway leading to the first floor, at the foot of which is a fine oak carving of the Cutlers Coat of Arms, dated 1569, which is among the few relics which survived the Great Fire of London in 1666.  The stairway is lined with windows which are fine examples of 17th and 18th century stained glass, retrieved from an earlier Hall.

The landing has on display several examples of sword making, including the Black Prince's sword.

Passing into the old Smoking Room, we came upon the Company's collection of cutlery, dating from Roman to modern times, including scissors and surgical instruments.  The collection ranges from Stone Age tools to the cutlery of today and from the cheapest of mass produced knives to exquisite items made from gold and ivory encrusted with jewels

There is also on display a collection of City of London Livery and Guilds medals and badges, from the 17th century to the present day.

Coming towards the end of our outstanding tour of the treasures held at Cutlers Hall, we took our seats around the very large table in the Livery Hall, with its stunning, Victorian, hammer beam roof, where elephant heads were again depicted.  Here we had a demonstration of clapping in the Master Cutler, represented on this occasion by one of our Past Masters, clothed in gown and bonnet of the Company.  The loving cup ceremony was also enacted and we all then drank a toast, actually not virtually, with delicious wine.

A really outstanding tour, guided by people who are very enthusiastic and admiring of Cutlers Hall and its remarkable contents, to whom special thanks must be offered.  So many treasures hidden inside a building passed by hundreds of people every day, who have no idea of what lies inside.  Good to have the opportunity to visit.

We were by now in need of refreshment and quickly made our way to the nearby Cafe Rouge, where we were comfortably seated at a long table in a quieter section of the room, with bottles of wine awaiting us.  Food followed not too long afterwards, conversation flowed and we said how good it was to be out and about, enjoying ourselves with friends once again.

This was an excellent event and I am sure that many of those who were there are still thinking about all we saw and heard.  Sincere thanks to all who helped to make the excellent arrangements.

 

Barbara Newman

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