Beauty and Heritage: hosting events at the Livery Halls

26 Jun 2023


‘What could be more quintessentially British than a City Livery hall?’ shares Tim Cramp, MD at Party Ingredients, who is a passionate expert on the history and tradition behind these treasures hidden across the City.

Livery companies are ancient organisations dating back to medieval times in London. These companies, also known as guilds, were established by craftsmen and tradespeople to regulate their respective trades and protect the interests of their members. Today, Party Ingredients continues to work closely with livery companies across the City of London, providing catering services for their events and functions. Our expertise in catering and event management, combined with our deep understanding of the traditions and history of the livery companies, has made us a trusted partner for these important and historic organizations.

The earliest livery companies were established in the 12th century, and by the 14th century, there were over 100 in London. Each company was associated with a specific trade or craft, such as the Saddlers, the Carpenters, or the Apothecaries. ‘Having been built to administer their trades and professions they have now evolved and like Party Ingredients, are continuously progressive, using their properties and resources to provide facilities for events, education and to support related charities and find their place in today’s world’, says Tim Cramp. In 2020 alone, they together raised over £72 million for charity. Although many of these companies no longer have a physical trade to represent, around 30 of them still own Halls in the City of London, which are available for events. Party Ingredients is proud to manage four of these historic venues.

Despite being the oldest Livery Hall in the City of London, the Apothecaries Hall continues to function as a medical institution and educational facility for its members. Here, students can take exams for a range of diplomas, covering subjects such as ‘conflict and catastrophe medicine’ and HIV medicine. The money raised from its commercial rentals goes towards the ‘Master’s Fund’, which supports medical students who may be struggling financially. The livery companies are a unique and fascinating aspect of London’s history and a testament to the enduring power of these ancient organizations.

Each of the Livery halls in London has its distinct character and charm. Saddlers Hall is modern and bright, while Carpenters Hall boasts gorgeous wood panelling and artefacts. The Barber-Surgeons’ Hall is particularly remarkable, featuring a stunning painting, by Holbein, that depicts Henry VIII presenting the Royal Charter to the Barber Surgeons in 1540. These buildings are steeped in history and are filled with fascinating artefacts that tell their own stories. Recently, the Apothecaries Hall underwent a renovation that transformed the ground floor into a champagne bar. The space was once an apothecary shop that faced the street, but it has now been reimagined to showcase original features such as apothecary jars. The dining halls are adorned with beautiful chandeliers and set in the 17th-century building, which was the first to be reconstructed following the Great Fire of London. This magnificent venue is perfect for formal dinners and other special events.