Be­hind the scenes in the City of Lon­don

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

er­able prop­erty port­fo­lios, and over the cen­turies have built homes, schools, shops and of­fices all over the coun­try. The most dra­matic move into prop­erty came in 1613 when liv­ery com­pa­nies were handed parcels of land in North­ern Ire­land and in­structed by King James I to build houses and churches.

The tal­low chan­dlers have in­vest­ments rang­ing from a wine bar in Ch­ester to a cof­fee shop in Dorch­ester, and the fish­mon­gers have sig­nif­i­cant prop­erty in the City of Lon­don, while the mer­cers own the Royal Ex­change. Sev­eral liv­ery com­pa­nies still main­tain almshouses. But the most im­por­tant prop­er­ties are the halls them­selves, which range in style from the 17th-cen­tury Tal­low Chan­dlers’ Hall to Sir Basil Spence’s Sal­ters’ Hall, a bru­tal­ist build­ing. This is where the liv­ery com­pa­nies met to dis­cuss trade, pun­ish er­rant deal­ers, wear fine robes and feast.

Th­ese build­ings are the fo­cus of the new book. “Many of them dis­cuss the en­dur­ing im­pact of the com­pa­nies’ reg­u­la­tory pow­ers, but they don’t talk about the im­por­tance of prop­erty and the sheer phys­i­cal pres­ence they have main­tained through the halls,” says coau­thor Anya Lu­cas. “It seems that’s key to their sur­vival. Oth­er­wise their ex­is­tence is quite neb­u­lous, and their in­dus-

Tal­low Chan­dlers’ Hall, main, and paint­ings of its for­mer mas­ters un­der the sky­light, right

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