The Corporation of London, which oversees The City, has ceremonially elected and installed its Lord Mayor here for the last 800 years. The Guildhall was built in 1411, and though it failed to avoid the conflagrations of either 1666 or 1940, its core survived. The Great Hall is a psychedelic patchwork of coats of arms and banners of the City Livery Companies, which inherited the mantle of the medieval trade guilds. Tradesmen couldn't even run a shop without kowtowing to these prototypical unions, and their grand banqueting halls, the plushest private dining venues in The City, are testimony to the wealth they amassed. Inside the hall, Gog and Magog, the pair of mythical giants who founded ancient Albion and the city of New Troy, upon which London was said to be built, glower down from their west-gallery grandstand in nine-foot-high painted lime wood. The hall was also the site of famous trials, including that of Lady Jane Grey in 1553, before her execution at the Tower of London. To the right of Guildhall Yard is the Guildhall Art Gallery, which includes portraits of the great and the good, cityscapes, famous battles, and a slightly cloying pre-Raphaelite section. The construction of the gallery in the 1980s led to the exciting discovery of London's only Roman amphitheater, which had lain underneath Guildhall Yard undisturbed for more than 1,800 years. It was excavated and now visitors can walk among the remains, although most of the relics can be seen at the Museum of London.
- Address: Aldermanbury, The City, London, EC2V 5AE | Map It
- Phone: 020/7606–3030; 020/7332–3700
- Cost: Free (fee for some gallery exhibitions)
- Hours: Hall Mon.–Sat. 9:30–5; gallery Mon.–Sat. 10–5, Sun. noon–4. Last admission ½ hr before closing. Sometimes closed for events; call to check.
- Website: www.cityoflondon.gov.uk
- Subway: St. Paul's, Moorgate, Bank, Mansion House
- Location: The City
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