The Old Library in the Guildhall
A spectacular room now used for functions rather than reading
The Old Library is one of several fantastic spaces in the Guildhall complex. Sitting to the East of the main Guildhall it is regularly used for conferences and lunches, and for drinks ahead of dinners in the main Guildhall hall.
On the occasion of these photos it was being used for the United Wards Club Christmas lunch with multiple guests including the Aldgate Ward Club.
The Old Library’ is a Grade II-listed building designed by Sir Horace Jones, Architect and Surveyor to the City of London and also the Architect for Tower Bridge.
It was built in 1872 and once home to 126,000 books. Illustrating the introduction of printing into England, the north-end stained-glass window, as well as high vaulted ceiling and columns, allows plenty of natural light into this impressive room.
Apparently, the Guildhall’s medieval library was ‘borrowed’ in the mid-sixteenth century by Lord Protector, Edward Duke of Somerset, to furnish his new palace on the Strand.
For humour value here’s a photo of the then relatively unknown Kwasi Kwarteng speaking at an Innovate Finance FinTech event in the Old Library on 4 April 2022 when he was Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
The Old Library can be accessed through several of the Guildhall entrances — including the Art Gallery or via the corridor running along the south side of the main hall.
However for specific Old Library events you will often enter from the east where there is an entrance on Basinghall Street. This entrance leads almost immediately to the Livery Hall and then down a corridor — adorned with a eclectic range of items — to the Old Library and Guildhall.