The Drapers’ Hall
The history of the Drapers’ Hall dates back to the 15th century. The present premises, which were originally Cromwell’s house, were purchased from Henry VIII in 1543 and rebuilt after the fire in 1666. In 1772 more alterations were made, and between 1897 and 1901 further alterations in order to be able to let out the property as offices were carried out ‘under the skilled draughtsman and versatile architect, Graham Jackson’. The great marble staircase was removed and another staircase built with the small drawing room turned into the first floor landing. Alabaster was used for the balustrade, breccia for the Ionic columns, Emperor’s red for the doorcases. The marble work and woodcarving of the new staircase was placed in the specialized hands of Farmer and Brindley. 12
The building nowadays is used for banqueting functions and the main rooms were being laid out for this on the afternoon when I visited to see, measure and photograph the cipollino marble in the building.
The entrance to the Drapers’ Hall is on Throgmorton Avenue. The front door leads up steps to the Entrance Hall. After the glass door on the left hand side there is cipollino cladding to a pier which measures 1.45 m. high, .53 m. wide and .21 m in depth (Plate 8.58). On the opposite side is another pier 1.62 m. high, .44 m wide and .14 m. deep. This pier forms part of the three which lie on the right of the staircase (Plate 8.59). There is another pier next to it which is also cipollino and measures 1 .45 m. high, and .51 m. wide. The other pier on the right of the stairs is not cipollino but the fourth, on the left of the stairs, probably is cipollino (Plate 8.60). The piers on the other side of the hall, next to the reception desk are not cipollino. I was told that after a fire when they were destroyed they were replaced by plaster successfully painted to look like the marble originals.
The cladding of the arches and piers, situated under the stairs, appeared to be cipollino but I was not sure that it was genuine. However the cladding around the walls above the staircase was cipollino (Plate 8.61), (taken from the History of the Drapers’ Hall) There are eight panels of cladding, cut in two matching pieces on the left hand side of the staircase, on the first landing, measuring 2.14 m. high and each piece .58 m. wide; two of the pieces are in the corner before the window. The panels are made up of smaller matching pieces of cipollino (Plate 8.62). In front of the cipollino stand the seven breccia Ionic columns. The same pattern is followed on the other side of the staircase on the next landing (Plate 8.63).
Underneath the cipollino wall cladding is a cipollino shelf .14 m. wide, .07 m. deep and 5-6 m. long on each side. It continues as a sill under the window for 15-16 m.
The Landing (formerly the first floor drawing room)
is completely clad in cipollino above the wooden dado. On the right hand side, with ones back to the staircase there are three panels measuring .45 m. x 1.7 m. (made of four matching pieces of cipollino) with .31 m x .30 m. x 1.7 m. end blocks of cipollino, cut in two pieces in matching pattern (Plate 8.64). Two busts stand between the three breccia columns on a cipollino shelf. On each side of the mirror, between the two doors, there are two panels of cipollino cladding 1.07 m. high and .30 m. wide, cut in the same pattern of two matching pieces. I was told by the archivist that the bottom right hand piece had been broken and replaced by scagliola. There are also small sills at the bottom on each side of the mirror above the woodwork measuring .08 m. x .60 m. (see Plate 8.65).
The wall on the left of the mirror and the door has three panels of cipollino measuring .59 m wide and.1.07 high, cut in the same pattern as the other wall. There are fill in pieces at either end of the same height, .31 m. x .30 m. x 1.07 m., as the other side. There is the also the same sill, the Ionic breccia columns and marble busts (Plate 8.66).
There is no cipollino in the banqueting hall although there is much other marble and many large columns.
12 Bunting, Penelope, The History of the Drapers’ Hall, published by the Drapers’ Company, 1989, p.36.
Maps and Plates
Plate 8.58 Cipollino clad piers to the right and left of the Entrance, the Drapers’ Hall, London.
Plate 8.59 One cipollino clad pier to the right of the statue, the Drapers’ Hall, London.
Plate 8.60 One cipollino clad pier to the left of the staircase, the Drapers’ Hall, London.
Plate 8.61 The staircase landing at the Drapers’ Hall, London,
showing the cipollino marble cladding of the walls. (Photo - courtesy of the History of the Drapers’ Hall).
Plate 8.62 Eight cipollino panels (made up of four matching pieces of cipollino), interspersed with columns of breccia, on the wall of the first landing of staircase, the Drapers’ Hall, London.
Plate 8.63 Cipollino cladding of the wall on the second landing, interspersed with Ionic columns of breccia, the Drapers’ Hall, London.
Plate 8.64 Three panels of cipollino cladding (made up of four matching pieces of cipollino) above the wooden dado, on the wall to the right of the door to the Banqueting Room, ‘The Landing’, the Drapers’ Hall, London.
Plate 8.65 Cipollino cladding on the walls of ‘The Landing’, formerly first floor drawing room. Three panels of marble on each side of the mirror (made up of four matching pieces of cipollino), the Drapers’ Hall, London.
Plate 8.66 Three panels of cipollino marble on the wall opposite Plate 8.64, (made up of four matching pieces of cipollino in the same way) the Drapers’ Hall, London.