Guildhall is a Grade I-listed building in the Moorgate area of the City of London, England. It is situated off Gresham and Basinghall streets, in the wards of Bassishaw and Cheap.
The Great Hall has witnessed its share of drama. During the turmoil of the Reformation, peers, an archbishop and a queen were tried here for treason. It has been the setting for the pomp and circumstance of state and mayoral occasions since 1502.
Guildhall Great Hall is the third largest civic hall in England, where royalty and state visitors have been entertained throughout the centuries. It has been the setting for famous state trials, including that of Lady Jane Grey in 1553. The imposing medieval hall has stained glass windows and several monuments to national heroes including Admiral Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Winston Churchill.
Today, Guildhall still plays an important role in the City. It provides a venue for state and civic banquets, meetings of the City of London’s elected assembly, the Court of Common Council, and for the Honorary Freedom of the City ceremony.
The word ‘guildhall’ is said to derive from the Anglo-Saxon ‘gild’ meaning payment, so it was probably a place where citizens would pay their taxes. The present Guildhall was built in 1411 and, having survived both the Great Fire of London and the Blitz, it is the only secular stone structure dating from before 1666 still standing in the City.
It is likely that at least one earlier guildhall existed on or near the current site. References to a London guildhall are made in a document dating back to 1128 and the current hall’s west crypt is thought to be part of a late-13th-century building.