This paper is intended to achieve two aims, first to rescue from semi-oblivion a major London building of the early seventeenth century, and secondly to disentangle a little further that obscure and knotty problem, the manner in which Inigo Jones’s ideas on architecture were disseminated in England.
The Goldsmiths’ Company, one of the leading craft companies in the City of London, rebuilt its Livery Hall in the second half of the 1630s to the design of Nicholas Stone. Goldsmiths’ Hall was again rebuilt almost two centuries later when, in 1829, it gave place to the present hall, Philip Hardwick’s noble classical essay. Stone’s hall is familiar from several indifferent prints, but the drawings here reproduced for the first time provide a reliable record, full enough to allow a serious assessment of Stone’s design. Since the publication in 1896 of Sir Walter Prideaux’s Memorials of the Goldsmith’ Company it has been known that it was the King’s Surveyor, Inigo Jones, who advised the Company in 1634 not to patch up its medieval buildings but to erect a complete new hall. The Memorials, extracts from the Company’s Court Minute Books, have formed the basis of the so far very limited discussions of the seventeenth-century hall, yet the Court Minute Books themselves tell a much fuller and more revealing story. They also make it clear that the shell of Stone’s building survived the Great Fire of 1666, as George Vertue had noted. Prideaux’s introduction misleadingly raised doubts whether the prints did not show a post-fire rebuilding of Nicholas Stone’s façade.