Crafting identities

Artisan culture in London, c. 1550–1640

This book explores artisanal identity and culture in early modern London. It demonstrates that the social, intellectual, and political status of London’s crafts and craftsmen was embedded in particular material and spatial contexts. Through examination of a wide range of manuscript, visual, and material culture sources, the book investigates for the first time how London’s artisans physically shaped the built environment of the city, and how the experience of negotiating urban spaces impacted directly upon their own distinctive individual and collective identities. The book identifies and examines a significant cultural development hitherto overlooked by social and architectural historians: a movement to enlarge, beautify, and rebuild livery company halls in the City of London from the mid-sixteenth century to the start of the English civil wars. By exploring these re-building projects in depth, the book throws new light on artisanal cultural production and self-presentation in England’s most diverse and challenging urban environment. Craft company halls became multifunctional sites for knowledge production, social and economic organisation, political exchange, and collective memorialisation. The forms, uses, and perceptions of company halls worked to define relationships and hierarchies within the guild, and shaped its external civic and political relations. Applying an innovative and interdisciplinary methodology to the examination of artisanal cultures, the book engages with the fields of social and cultural history and the histories of art, design, and architecture. It will appeal to scholars of early modern social, cultural, and urban history, and those interested in design and architectural history.

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