historical house, livery hall
Nicholas Barbon, 1690
13 Devonshire Square, EC2M 4TH
Coopers' Hall is a late 17th century, timber-framed merchant's house with a Georgian frontage. A Livery Hall since 1957, it features a fine Courtoom, dining room and an impressive staircase spiralling up the entire height of the building.
The Hall - No13 Devonshire Square - is the fourth home of the Worshipful Company of Coopers. Between 1490 and 1940 the Coopers occupied three successive halls near Guildhall in Basinghall Street. The Company moved to Devonshire Square in 1957.
Outwardly Georgian in appearance, the building is in fact a survivor of the original square. It was built by Nicholas Barbon (son of the Puritan M.P. Praisegod Barebones), a major developer of London’s outskirts in the 1670s and 1680s. The hall dates from this time or a little later (1690s) and has a timber frame structure. (Hence there is a limit on numbers allowed on the upper floors.)
Sometime after 1728, the façade was redesigned to make it more fashionable. You can see the awkward angles caused by this rebuilding in the first floor dining room.
In the 1970s the Company carried out restoration work on the entrance hall and refurbishment of various rooms, including the Courtroom, and 2022 has seen external repairs to the front of the building
The Coopers' Company is one of the 111 livery companies in the City of London. Many of today's companies trace their histories back to medieval trade guilds which were established to regulate a craft or trade.
Coopers were responsible for making casks - a barrel is one of many different-sized casks - which were used to package and store most wet and dry goods.
The Coopers Livery Company is 36th in the hierarchy of the city liveries, probably instigated as early as the 11th century, and first mentioned as an established fellowship in the Mayor's Court records of 1298.
In 1532 the Company was granted the right by Parliament to control their craft throughout the City of London and its suburbs. This meant imposing quality control, training apprentices, setting standards for fully fledged coopers and inspecting the casks made in cooperages and breweries in London. These powers survived into the early 18th century.
Now the Company administers a number of charities; gives support to its school and college and provides a social focus for its members – Liverymen and Freemen. Women have been involved with livery companies through the ages, but in the modern era the Coopers' Company has admitted women as Liverymen since 2001. The Master is Mr John Fahy; the Immediate Past Master is Ms Clare Hughes.
The Coopers’ Company was granted its first royal charter in 1501 and its coat of arms in 1509. The latter consists of three Tudor lilies and in the field three annulets with chevron bearing tools. The supportive are camels with annulets and the crest a heath-cock carrying a lily in its beak.
The motto “Love as Brethren” replaced the original “Gaude Maria Virgo” (Rejoice, Virgin Mary) after the Reformation. The lilies in the coat of arms refer to the Virgin Mary. The annulets represent the hoops which bind the casks and the tools feature the special coopers’ axe. Its blade and handle are on different planes so that the hand is protected when trimming the staves.
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Drop in / Talk
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