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.
sixteenth century gifting was embedded into the ritual calendar of elections and commemoration, and into the built fabric of the City's liveryhalls.
The rationale for this investigation into traces of tangible, physical gifts derives from both the abundance and variety of archival evidence of gifting practices within guild societies, and from the methodological understanding that a material approach offers a new and enriching perspective on company cultures. Examining a range of primary sources, including company court minutes and accounts, books of
brings together some of the key themes with which this book has been centrally concerned: improvements to built space; meaningful furnishings and material gifts; artisanal skill as a valued attribute and a symbolic artefact; and the interrelationship between individual and collective identities.
Crafting Identities has shown how London witnessed a decided trend for liveryhall rebuilding and adaptation from c . 1550 to 1640. Craft companies, from the relatively minor to the most affluent and politically influential, invested
representation of an early modern liveryhall, and illustrates this point nicely (see Plate 3 ).
Though outside the primary chronological parameters of this book, it is an important survival, for Armourers’ Hall was largely unscathed by the Great Fire of 1666 and thus this plan shows its early modern configuration. The Armourers’ survey signifies each interior ground-floor chamber with a letter, which corresponds to an adjoining textual key.
So, for instance, the letter ‘C
furnishings, furniture, plate, cooking apparatus, armour, books, and manuscripts.
Examination of the Pewterers’ Company court records reveals a particularly intense period of rebuilding and decorative improvement to their liveryhall between the early 1550s and late 1580s, including the construction of a new parlour, gallery, and court chamber.
The example of Pewterers’ Hall, though unusually well-documented, was far from unique. It
's youthful trainee goldsmiths. Looking outwards, company halls were also embedded in the broader urban topography of commerce and ceremony. Highly ritualised searches of artisanal workshops and retail sites, undertaken by senior guild members, began and ended at the associated guild building, and the liveryhalls of the most eminent mercantile guilds, such as the Mercers’ Company, were incorporated into civic and royal processional routes.
The rebuilding of Goldsmiths’ Company Hall in the mid-1630s – an undertaking which we encountered in the previous
status and honour of the corporation. Liveryhalls were highly conspicuous civic buildings, in ‘dialogue’ with multiple political, social, and aesthetic audiences, including their own guildsmen but also artisans of diverse crafts, merchants, foreign dignitaries, and members of the royal court. ‘Private’ buildings were also in constant dialogue with ‘public’ spaces, such as the street and marketplace, and thus the state of structures like guild halls impacted upon the prestige of public throughways, and vice versa. As Vanessa Harding has suggested, ‘public space derived
was not recognised by London's artisanal population.
From the perspective of the building site, we encounter the changing built environment of sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century London, the broad material hinterland against which liveryhall rebuilding was taking place. Rare accounts of building works in the city also reveal the outlines of on-site artisanal knowledge cultures. Primarily, artisanal knowledge was communicated through a range of mediums, including the spoken word, written instructions, and visual sources. The legitimate
charged by riding schools and
the costs associated with extravagant display in Hyde Park. As a result,
riding out was particularly attractive to London’s middling sorts. Previous
studies of middling and particularly mercantile lifestyles have tended to
foreground venues such as coffee houses, liveryhalls and voluntary societies, but the Square Mile produced some of London’s most enthusiastic
riders.30 The mid-eighteenth-century diaries of John Eliot and Thomas
Bridge provide a window onto this world and suggest that horses were
central to the recreational lives of at
most eminent families in early seventeenth-century England. Nicholas Stone will also be a central figure in Chapter 3 , through his role as designer and project manager for the Goldsmiths’ Company's liveryhall rebuilding scheme of the mid-1630s. While Stone's influence and expertise have long been acknowledged by architectural historians and scholars researching funerary monuments, his rich archival ‘life-writings’ have been overlooked by social and cultural historians.
We turn next to The Gouldesmythes