Bassishaw Ward

Pages 13-14

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in London, Volume 4, the City. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1929.

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In this section


Bassishaw Ward includes only the parish of St. Michael Bassishaw. Girdlers' Hall is the principal monument.


(1) Girdlers' Hall (No. 39 Basinghall Street) stands on the E. of the street and is of one storey; the walls are built of brick and the roofs are tiled. The Hall was re-built in 1681–82 after the Great Fire. The Parlour was enlarged southwards in 1735 and the whole building was restored in 1878–79, when the modern buildings round the courtyard, to the W., were added.

The Hall is approached by a modern archway in Basinghall Street giving access to a courtyard, on the E. side of which is the Hall. Projecting to the E. from the N. end of the Hall is the Parlour, and in the angle between them is a small garden.

The E. Elevation to the Garden has walls of red brick with black headers and the eaves are masked by a plaster cove. The wall has six round-headed windows with arches of red rubbed brick and flush frames; the first and last are small windows, above ranges running E. from the Hall. The N. Elevation of the Hall has two round-headed windows, one now blocked. The W. Elevation of the Hall and the S. Elevation of the Parlour have been modernised.

Interior—The Hall is six bays long and has a modern ceiling; at the S. end is an enriched cornice of plaster. At the S. end behind the main screen is a second screen enclosing the staircase to the gallery and an anteroom. The fireplace on the W. side of the Hall is modern but the panelled overmantel (Plate 8) above is original and finished with an enriched segmental pediment. In the N. window are the arms, in glass, of the city of London and the Girdlers' Company, of late 17th-century date. The walls are panelled to half their height, and towards the N. or dais-end is a recess in the W. wall with carved enrichments and fitted with shelves; the arched head has cornucopias in the spandrels. In the E. wall, opposite, is a blocked doorway with a similar head. The passage between the two screens is panelled; the upper panels on the S. side are elaborately carved (Plate 64); three doorways, on the same side, have carved architraves and friezes. The main screen (Plate 61) consists of three bays divided by engaged and fluted Corinthian columns, with pilasters against the walls, supporting an entablature with a carved foliage frieze to the side bays only; the doorway in the middle bay has a round arch, key and festooned spandrels and is surmounted by a segmental pediment, with an escutcheon of the Company's arms in the tympanum; the side bays have each two carved panels and a dado. Above the cornice is a panelled attic, above which the screen is carried up to the ceiling with an open arcade of three bays resting on square piers, each face of which is carved; the arch to the middle bay is elliptical, but the side bays have each a pair of semi-circular arches finished with a pendant in the centre and cherub-heads above. Hung against the wall at the N. end is a large carpet presented by Robert Bell, master, in 1634; it was made at Lahore in imitation of Persian work and bears the arms and crest of the company, two shields of the Bell arms and two monograms. The staircase to the gallery over the screens is entered by an archway in the middle of the second screen, with a round head, with carved spandrels, springing from carved brackets; the landing has a modern rail with re-used turned and twisted balusters. The Parlour has a modern ceiling; the doorway from the Hall has a richly carved frieze and pediment on each side. The fireplace on the N. has a carved surround and an overmantel carved with festoons of foliage and flowers and with a landscape by Richard Wilson in the central panel; above it is a carved escutcheon of the company's arms. In the middle window on the S. is a glass sundial of c. 1700 inscribed "Tempus omnia [te]rminat." The walls are panelled to the ceiling and finished with an enriched wooden cornice; above the master's chair is a carving of the royal Stuart arms in wood; the panelling at the S. ends of the E. and W. walls is modern.

In the garden is a lead cistern (Plate 6) with various devices and the date 1697; it was formerly at No. 66 Aldersgate Street.


(2) No. 22 Basinghall Street, on the E. of the street, is a modern building standing on the site of the Weavers' Hall. It contains the following fittings from the old hall: In corridor on top floor—doorway in wood with round head having a carved key-block and spandrels and enriched archivolt; panelled pilasters at sides supporting cornice, two-fold panelled door, upper panels with pierced carving, late 17th-century. In office No. 42, fireplace and overmantel of wood, pilasters at sides carved with fruit and flowers, bay-leaf frieze, overmantel with enriched panel in centre, pilasters at sides and cornice at ceiling level, late 17th-century. Formerly in light over staircase but now stored elsewhere—sundial in yellow glass, with spider and fly on web, arms of company, hour-glass and inscription—"Dum spectas fugio," c. 1700; also five 17th-century roses set in modern roundels.

(3) Coopers' Hall stands on the W. side of Basinghall Street and is a modern building. It contains the following fittings from the old Hall: In the office—surround to fireplace of wood carved and moulded, late 17th-century; royal arms (Stuart) carved in wood, same date. In vestibule —two scrolled shields with the arms of the Company, festoons of fruit, a bracket with the arms of the Company, the initials I.H. (John Howard) in front, a shield-of-arms and inscription "Lucas Aisry Ar. dedit" on one side and the inscription "I. Platton, 1699," for John Platton, on the other side.