‘Outward walls’ and ‘publique workes’
in Crafting identities
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This chapter explores external walls and political relationships. Improvements to guild halls were located within a broader political and cultural movement to refashion the urban fabric of the City and its environs. It considers three central case-studies: first, the enhancement of guild and City gatehouses; second, dialogues over the exterior designs of Goldsmiths’ Hall; and third, the long-running debate over the contested location of London’s goldsmiths’ shops and work sites. Linking these case studies is a deep-rooted concern on the part of both civic and royal authorities to regulate space and enhance the material fabric of London. Thematically central too is the question of what exactly constitutes ‘public’ space? At the Goldsmiths’ Hall site in the 1630s there was an inherent tension between the complex interior spatial organisation of company buildings (the prerogative of the guildsmen) and their façades (adapted in accordance with the royal concern for ‘uniformity’). To resolve tensions over the extent to which company architectures were ‘public’ buildings, guild office-holders made a distinction between ‘inward’ works, over which they exerted close control, and ‘outward’ walls, where responsibility was largely delegated to those with architectural expertise and close royal connections. Congruently, the well-documented campaign to return all ‘remote’ goldsmiths (located in western suburbs) to Cheapside (their customary City location) shows that contested interpretations of ‘private’ or ‘public’ space, in workshops and city streets as within company halls, came to define an artisan’s or trader’s place within the body of the guild or, indeed, his exclusion from it.

Crafting identities

Artisan culture in London, c. 1550–1640

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