I’ll be posting more from my Open House London adventure shortly, but one of my favourite things is the way it opens up even familiar bits of London to appreciation. I’d known about the Guildhall for a long time – a friend of mine used to have end of term assemblies in there – but never been in.
Approaching it by St Lawrence Jewry, we passed the fish pond where Elizabeth David used to bury her bottles of wine to cool for lunch when researching, and came out into this courtyard.
It’s a great example of the Romantic Modernism (to borrow the title of Alexandra Harris’ book) that sprung up in the 40s and 50s. A generation of artists, architects and writers – some of my favourite children’s writers like ME Allan and Geoffrey Trease among them – set out to consciously revive the “strength” of medieval and Tudor history, regional folk traditions and Englishness. The artwork of David Gentleman at Charing Cross, which I’ve posted here before, is another example.
In this case, the concrete canopies evoke jousting pavilions, the tents at Agincourt and the mullioned windows of Tudor houses. All this is the most glorious contrast to the full Gothic gloom inside the hall, a dark space that belongs right in the atmosphere that the recent screenplay of Victoria sought to convey.
I didn’t know who all the memorials were to, but the ones to Wellington and Nelson were clear enough. The carvings at the base show the last charge at Waterloo and the British fleet respectively.
Also inside the complex are a collection of Royal banquets – this is the Coronation lunch in 1937 by Frank O’Salisbury. Love those hats!
The gallery as a whole is worth a trip by itself, but we didn’t have time. Photos above of the collection, all September 2016.