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History of Guildhall Great Hall


​Inside Guildhall

Guildhall Great Hall is the third largest civic hall in England, where royalty and state visitors have been entertained throughout the centuries. It has been the setting for famous state trials, including that of Lady Jane Grey in 1553. The imposing medieval hall has stained glass windows and several monuments to national heroes including Admiral Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Winston Churchill.

Today, Guildhall still plays an important role in the City. It provides a venue for state and civic banquets, meetings of the City of London's elected assembly, the Court of Common Council, and for the Honorary Freedom of the City ceremony.

The word 'guildhall' is said to derive from the Anglo-Saxon 'gild' meaning payment, so it was probably a place where citizens would pay their taxes. The present Guildhall was built in 1411 and, having survived both the Great Fire of London and the Blitz, it is the only secular stone structure dating from before 1666 still standing in the City.

It is likely that at least one earlier guildhall existed on or near the current site. References to a London guildhall are made in a document dating back to 1128 and the current hall's west crypt is thought to be part of a late-13th century building.

Remains of a long-lost Roman amphitheatre discovered in 1987 underneath what is now Guildhall Yard indicate that the site of Guildhall was significant as far back as Roman times.

10 August 2015
Last Modified:
06 October 2017