The Nuremberg Chronicle 1493

Printed in 1492 by author Hartmann Schedel, The Nuremberg Chronicle is a summary of world history starting from creation to the last judgement. It features a number of stunning woodcuts depicting many townscapes, biblical scenes and historical figures. The Chronicle was first published in Latin before being translated to German later that year. It has several titles, the English being The Nuremberg chronicle named after the place in which it was printed, and in German it is known as Die Schedelsche Weltchronik (Schedel’s World History) after its author. In Latin it is known as Liber Chronicarum (Book of Chronicles).  

The Nuremberg Chronicle is best known for its incredibly detailed woodcuts of many towns and cities across Europe which include Nuremberg, Constantinople, Florence, Paris and Alexandria. The Image below is taken from one of our three copies and features the city of Paris.  Each copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle is unique. There was no strict rule in which colours were to be used to colour each woodcut, so the colours and patterns tend to vary from each edition. Specialist shops were tasked with the colouring of the prints.  Several copies are uncoloured, and some have prints missing, as it was common for owners to remove some of the more intricate prints and sell them on as decorative pieces.  

Our copies of the Nuremberg Chronicle form part of our Incunabula collection which features 79 unique items. Incunabula are any printed materials which were printed in Europe before 1501. Two of our copies are written in Latin and one is in German. They include coloured woodcuts in various stages of completion. An image taken from the Nuremberg chronicle is currently on display in our Photowall which celebrates some of our most iconic collections and items. Below are a series of images taken from one of our copies of The Nuremberg Chronicle.

The Royal Exchange

Royal Exchange

View of the Royal Exchange from ‘Select Views of London‘ by John Buonarotti Papworth, 1816

First founded by Sir Thomas Gresham in 1566, the Royal Exchange has been at the centre of the City of London for over 450 years. The Exchange was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth I in 1571 and awarded the ‘Royal’ title, which enabled it to sell alcohol and valuable goods. The Exchange was modelled after the Bourse in Antwerp, where Gresham had been working on behalf of the Crown. The original purpose of this Bourse was to be London’s first stock trading centre. In 1660 two additional floors were added for retail shops, essentially creating London’s first “shopping centre”. During the Great Fire of London in 1666 the first exchange burnt down alongside two thirds of the City.

A second exchange was designed in a Baroque style by Edward Jerman and opened in 1669. Rooms were let out as offices for Lloyds of London and in 1838 a fire began in those offices which resulted in the second Exchange burning down as well! The only salvageable remains from the second Exchange was a statue of King Charles II. A competition to design the third and current exchange was organised which the architect Sir William Tite won. The new Exchange was opened by Queen Victoria on the 28th October 1884, but trading did not start until the beginning of 1885. Just before the opening in 1884 a cast bronze statue was unveiled of Arthur Wellesley the 1st Duke of Wellington. The bronze used to make the statue came from enemy cannons captured during the Duke’s war campaigns. The London Troops memorial was unveiled behind the Wellington statue in 1920, commemorating those who fought during World War 1 and World War 2.


The London Troops Memorial  

The Exchange was spared damage during the London Blitz in 1941, however Bank Interchange was severely damaged during the air raids. The Exchange remained in disuse until 1950s where it was used as The Mermaid Theatre, which relocated to Blackfriars in 1959. In the 1980s the London International Financial Futures Exchange moved in. In 2001 the Exchange was extensively remodelled into the luxury shopping centre it is today.   

IMG_0896 (002)

The Coronation Ceremony of King George IV

King George 4 close up

King George IV in his coronation robes

Following the death of his father King George III on the 29th January 1820, the then Prince Regent succeeded his father as King George IV of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. By the time of his coronation George was 57 and had been ruling as Prince Regent for almost 10 years following the deterioration of his fathers mental health. As a Prince, George was known for his extravagant tastes and exuberant lifestyle. His coronation in 1821 was an excellent example of the new King’s appetite for self-indulgence.   

The Prince spared no expense for his coronation which took place on the 19th July 1821. He spent approximately £243,00 on the ceremony which equates to about £21,751,000 in today’s money! In comparison his father spent only £10,000 on his coronation. A significant proportion of the cost was spent on were the costumes worn by the participants in the procession. Each item was an Elizabethan or Stuart styled piece made up of red, blue and gold fabrics. George’s costume was an extravagant 16-foot silk, velvet and fur robe which had to be carried by page boys, who were instructed to spread out when carrying his robe so that the spectators could view its elaborate embroidery, as he made his way through the procession. He also wore a brown curled wig and a black cap with ostrich and heron feathers  

Arthur Duke of Wellington

Arthur Duke of Wellington

A notable missing person from his coronation was his wife Caroline of Brunswick from whom he had long been estranged from for many years following the birth of their only daughter Charlotte. He had sort a divorce for many years but was advised against it as it would bring to light some of his own adulterous relationships. Instead he bared Caroline from attending the coronation and from being crowned Queen. She did attempt to gain entry to Westminster Abbey but found all of the entrances blocked by guards who were given strict instructions not to permit her entry. The only women present at the coronation were the flower girls, who by tradition sprinkled herbs and flowers along the processional route to ward off pestilence and disease 

HRH Leopold Duke of Saxony 2.5

Leopold Duke of Saxony, the husband of King George’s daughter Charlotte

To celebrate the new King’s coronation John Whittaker, a printer and publisher, created an illustrated book in 1823. He commissioned brothers James and Frances Stephanoff to create the drawings which were taken from the coronation procession. Shortly after publication Whittaker became bankrupt due to the high costs in producing the book as the printing method used real gold to emboss the illustrations. Later in 1837 the book was republished by George Nayler and Henry Bohn. Guildhall Library holds copies of both books which are available to consult in the library (proof of ID required) 

The Great Fire of London 1666

AN 9.1.18 close up

On Saturday the 1st September 1666 the City of London was a buzz of activity, with traders selling their goods in the marketplaces and shops around London, carriages pulling goods in and out of the city as well as providing transportation for the rich who were off to spend their money in the fashionable shops along Cheapside, and the poor begging on the streets hoping to make enough money for a hearty meal. The medieval cobbled streets of the city twisted around a variety of timber structures, many with additional jetties which protruded over the sides with thickly thatched roofs. Even the bridges across the Thames were covered with these wooden structures. Stone buildings were rare in the City as they were often too expensive to build so only the richest districts could afford the expense. Five days later London had become a burnt-out shell of a City, being nothing but ash and smouldering timbers 

The blaze began in a baker’s shop on Pudding Lane at some point between 12 and 1 am on Sunday 2nd September. It isn’t known exactly how the fire started or who started it but there were many rumours spread around London at the time. The most popular theory was that it was a deliberate act by French or Dutch soldiers who wanted to put an end to the Second AngeloDutch war, or as revenge for the English attack on the Vlie estuary in which the Dutch village of West-Terschelling was set on fire. That particular fire was known as Holmes’ Bonfire and was named after Admiral Robert Holmes who orchestrated the attack.  

A French watch maker named Robert Hubert falsely confessed to starting the blaze and was arrested. In his first statement he alleged that he started the fire in Westminster, but the flames never reached there. In a second statement he claimed that he had started the fire in Pudding Lane by throwing a grenade through a window, but this statement only came after it was revealed that the fire had started there. There were several misgivings about his fitness to plead, as he was crippled and likely had some sort of mental illness. Nevertheless, he was sentenced to death and hanged a day later at Tyburn. It was later discovered that he wasn’t in London at the time of the fire, he had only arrived in England two days after the fire had started, meaning that it was impossible for him to have started it. He has been widely viewed as a political scapegoat, used only to try to calm down the enraged public who had already started to blame foreigners and refugees for the fire 

 There had been a series of small fires in the City before the Great Fire, the last appearing in 1632, but they had been dealt with quickly through the use of fire hooks, used to drag down any nearby timber buildings. This created fire blocks which would prevent the fire from spreading as it had nothing to burn. The weather was a large driving force in making the fire so intense. For the last year London had experienced a major drought following two years of rainy summers, the timber buildings had dried out and were an immediate fire hazard. A strong east wind helped spread the fire quickly. There were large amounts of flammable items stored in warehouses across the City (which included gunpowder, tar, and oil) that increased the fire’s potency. 

The ineffective and disorderly judgements from the Lord Mayor Thomas Bloodworth also greatly impacted the spread of the conflagration, as he greatly misjudged its magnitude as well as refused to follow the orders from King Charles to tear down several buildings and create fire blocks. He likely prevented the demolition of any nearby buildings out of fear from receiving complaints from the owners! His failure to take measures to prevent the spread of the fire caused it to greatly intensify into a fire storm, which had its own wind system, increasing the spread and heat of the fire. It got so hot in fact that the lead roof of St Pauls melted and became a molten stream on the street below! 

Much of what we know about the events for the Great Fire come from the diaries of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn both of whom were present in London during the fire. The most in-depth description came from Pepys who famously mentioned how, in haste, he buried some of his expensive wine and cheese in his garden in the hope that if the fire spread to his house, he would be able to retrieve these expensive goods from the burnt remains. Luckily for Pepys the fire never reached his home in Seething lane.  

Many believe that the Great Fire is the reason that the Great Plague vanished from London as the fire burnt the diseased rodents and contaminated buildings. However, the vast majority of the poor (who were the most likely to have or carry the disease) lived in the slums outside the City which were not damaged in the fire. Also, the number of plague victims had fallen substantially, to only a handful of cases in 1666 so in all likelihood the plague had died out on its own. However, it is possible that the fire helped prevent it from reappearing as the dirty, rotten, old and potentially contaminated timber buildings were destroyed and the majority of London was rebuilt using stone and brick. 

On the order of King Charles, several radical new designs for the city were created. Christopher Wren, Robert Hooke, John Evelyn and architect Valentine Knight all came up with designs, mostly in a baroque style, for the new city. These plans were scrapped after it proved to be too difficult to implement, due to some complexities in land ownership; so, the original design of the city was re-used but the majority of buildings were redesigned to be made of brick and stone instead of flammable timber. Included in this rebuild of the City was the new design for St Pauls and fifty additional churches all by Sir Christopher Wren. 

A memorial to the fire (called The Monument) was constructed between 1671 to 1677. It was designed jointly by Sir Christopher Wren and philosopher Robert Hooke. The original plaque on the monument included an inscription which blamed the Pope and Catholics for the fire. This was removed following the Catholic Emancipation in 1830. Another monument known as the ‘Golden Boy of Pye Corner’ was erected in Smithfield which blamed the fire on the sin of Gluttony! 

 A contemporary image from one of our books featuring the scene of the Great Fire is currently on display on our ‘Treasures’ photowall which celebrates some of our iconic items including Shakespeare’s First Folio, The Nuremburg Chronicle and 18th Century Lottery Tickets! 


The Great Exhibition of 1851

Title page

The Victorian era is often defined by the industrial revolution, Britain’s expansion and evolution of its manufacturing processes in the production of textiles, coal mining and iron works as well as the mass building of canals and rail roads. Although the industrial revolution first began in the mid to late Georgian period, it wasn’t until Queen Victoria ascended to the throne that the impact of the industrial age began to drastically effect people’s way of life. In celebration of what was a major increase in Britain’s influence over industrial exploits, Prince Albert husband of Queen Victoria organised a grand display of new inventions, extravagant decorations, textiles and furniture to be held in a custom-built structure in Hyde Park.  

General View of Interior

The iron and glass structure known as the Crystal Palace was designed by Joseph Paxton an experienced architect who well known for constructing green houses. It took just nine months from finalising its design to the grand opening on the 1st of May 1851. At 563 metres long and 183 meters wide the Crystal Palace was a massive structure, emphasised by the fact that many of the elm trees which ordinarily would have been removed to make way for the building were left standing inside the building with the addition of several statues and fountains that were made specifically for the exhibition. Its cast iron frame and thick glass windows where made exclusively in Birmingham and Smethwick. The structure itself was built to show of British engineering and design. In 1854 the Crystal Palace was dismantled and re-built in Sydenham Hill, in an area which has now been renamed Crystal Palace. The structure was completely destroyed in a devastating fire in November 1936. 

Over six million people visited, with a daily estimate of over 42,000 during the exhibition. The ticket prices were often changed due to the volume of people attending. In the beginning tickets costed from £1 to £2 until it was later reduced to one shilling. This enabled many of the working classes to attend as well as raise a considerable amount of money. This profit surplus was used to help fund the building of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Natural History Museum and the Science Museum in an area of south Kensington nicknamed Albertropolis after Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert 

South Gallery

The official title for the exhibition was ‘The Great Exhibition of Works of Industry of all Nationsas its primary objective was to celebrate modern technology from around the world, however the major motive in its creation was to showcase how British design and technology was superior to that of other countries as well as show how British design would shape the future. An official list of all of the counties represented in the exhibit were included in the official illustrated exhibition catalogue which included detailed descriptions of each of the exhibits as well as a few illustrations of the more interesting pieces. 

Some of the most popular exhibits were the Koh-i-Noor diamond, Ross’s Trophy Telescope, Minton’s Ceramics as well as the first public toilets which costed a penny to use, hence the phrase ‘to spend a penny’! Several inventors, physicists and photographers used the exhibition to show off their inventions including American photographer Mathew Brady, Firearms manufacturer Samuel Colt and Locksmith Alfred Charles Hobbs. A large quantity of the exhibited items formed part of the first V&A collection when the exhibition closed on October 15th, 1851 

An image taken from the furniture court in ‘Recollections of the great exhibition’ (please see below) is on display on our Photowall, which celebrates some of our treasures. 

Furniture Gallery

By Lindsey Keeling,

Customer Services Apprentice


Guildhall Library marks the 200th year anniversary of the Cato Street Conspiracy.

The Cato Street Conspiracy was a terrorist plot to murder all the British cabinet ministers and Prime Minister, seize the Bank of England and the Tower of London and establish a revolutionary government at Mansion House.
The plot was hatched by a band of improvised craftsmen led by Arthur Thistlewood. On the evening of 23 February 1820 Thistlewood lead the plotters into a humble stable building in Cato Street, Marylebone and straight into a police trap. Thistlewood had been deceived by a government agent George Edwards. In the ensuing struggle between the conspirators and the authorities, a Bow Street Runner, was fatally stabbed by Thistlewood.

Eleven conspirators subsequently stood trial at the Old Bailey during April 1820 charged with High Treason. Five men were sentenced to transportation. The five leading conspirators were sentenced to the full sentenced passed on those convicted of High Treason up to 1870:
““That you, each of you, be taken hence to the goal from whence you came, and from thence that you be drawn on a hurdle to a place of execution, and be there hanged by the neck until dead; and that afterwards your heads shall be severed from your bodies, and your bodies divided into four quarters, to be disposed of as his Majesty shall think fit. And may God of His infinite goodness
On 1 May 1820, one hundred thousand people crammed into an area outside Newgate Prison to witness what was to be the last public hanging and beheading in England.

If you like to know more, Guildhall Library’s free exhibition runs until 4 May 2020. Drawing on contemporary documents and images, the exhibition places the conspiracy in wider context of political and economic unrest of the early 1800s and narrates the story of the conspiracy, its participants and their fates.

There is also an accompanying events programme: A free curator led tour will take place the last Friday of each month of the exhibition 1-1.45 pm. In addition, Actor David Benson will introduce the main characters in an evening performance described by the British Theatre Guide as entertaining rampage through history, brought to life with humour and a provocative reflection on our contemporary political crises” (Tuesday 7 April 2020, 6-8pm ; £7 per person). Places for either event are bookable via















Written by: Librarian and Curator Ann Martin

(Exhibition image: (c)Martin Routledge)





Merchant Navy Treasures

The Newall Dunn Collection – Progress and Volunteering
Some of you will have visited our introductory exhibition to highlight the Newall Dunn Collection earlier this year. For the purposes of this small scale display we were only able to show items from three companies, but we were delighted that so many of our visitors enjoyed this glimpse of things to come.







From the Port Line folder of large photographs




The Newall Dunn Collection offers a rich and diverse photographic and ephemera resource for Merchant Shipping history; a treasure trove of material from the late nineteenth to the early twenty-first century. It is a rich source of information on cargo vessels and shipping companies as well as passenger services covering everything from ocean liners to pleasure boats and tugs.
Converting a privately held collection into something users can find on a library catalogue and view in the reading room involves organisation and effort. Each folder of material needs to be arranged, analysed and recorded before being re-packaged and labelled. We hope that the work we are doing will make the riches in this collection accessible to all – whilst taking care of it for the future. This is a challenge, but one we are happy and privileged to accept.










Just some of the material when it arrived at Guildhall Library










Staff and volunteers at Guildhall Library have been busy listing and ordering material and then carefully transferring it into conservation grade folders and sleeves. Over five hundred information files, going back to the early 1930s, have now been listed on a spreadsheet, re-housed and labelled. These files are in two series: shipping companies from Aberdeen to Zim and subject folders. The latter is wide ranging, covering such themes as figureheads, hospital ships, lightships, railway steamers and propellers. Types of material include news cuttings, journal articles, press releases, deck plans and sketches.



The Prince Line information file before listing and re-housing







Some content from the Bibby Line file






An example of the large photograph collection before listing and re-packaging



The collections of small and large photographs are under way. Like the information folders these are largely arranged by shipping company with some sections ‘by subject’.





The new folders on the shelves



We are very grateful for the work of our volunteers who have contributed so much toward bringing this collection to library users. Without their generosity we would not be able to release material for many years to come. Would you like to join us? We need your help; you do not need to commit to more hours than you are comfortable with. Some volunteers give a regular morning or afternoon, others do a full or half day as and when they can. If you think you may be interested, contact us at without obligation.
The Newall Dunn Collection will be available to order in stages, as we complete and catalogue the various series. We are not ready yet but keep an eye on our blog and other social media platforms for updates.

Jeanie Smith, Assistant Librarian, Guildhall Library.




Ackermann’s Repository of Arts

Front Page 1825

This image is of the front page of one of the volumes dated 1825.

The Repository of Arts was an illustrated periodical which focused on art, literature, commerce, manufactures, fashions and politics. It was published by Rudolph Ackermann from 1809-1828. The Repository influenced fashion, architecture and literature during the Regency and late Georgian period.  The last issue of The Repository of Arts was published in 1828 before it was taken over by The Repository of Fashion. This new periodical did not last long as in 1829 it merged with La Belle Assemblée, a women’s fashion magazine.

Black Prominade Dress 1828.jpg

This is an image of a black promenade dress from a 1828 edition. 

Each edition of The Repository of Arts contains various images of architectural structures around Britain as well as beautiful illustrations of popular women’s fashions. In several of the editions small squares of fabric which have been attached to the page to display the popular new styles of fabric patterns in some of the illustrations. Some of these are colourfully patterned fabrics which are still in excellent condition despite some pieces being over 200 years old!

Fabric Patterns 1809

This is one of the many examples of fabric squares which have been advertised in The Repository.

The description which accompanies the above fabric samples is as follows:

‘No. 1 is a yellow printed Book muslin, ell-wide, admirably adapted for ladies’ evening dresses, and furnished by Messrs. Smith and Co. 43 Tavistock Street, Covent Garden.

No. 2, a striped muslin, or nainsook, 6-4ths wide, is an extremely elegant article for morning dresses, and was supplied by Messrs. Brisco and Powley, 103 New Bond Street.

No. 3 is a printed cambric-muslin, 9-8ths wide. It is a highly fashionable article, and uncommonly elegant, from the delicacy of its design and print, which have authority to assure the public to be a permanent colour. It was furnished by the same house as the preceding pattern.

No. 4. This chintz, or shawl pattern marcella, ¾ wide, is a truly elegant and fashionable article for gentlemen’s waistcoats. It was furnished by Messrs. Richard Smith and Co. 2 Prince’s Street, Leicester Square.’

Some editions also contain various fashionable furniture pieces as well as intricate interior designs. Several designs from The Repository focus on Gothic styled pieces which include chairs, beds, bookcases and fireplaces amongst other elaborate pieces. Each piece is highly detailed, beautifully illustrated and coloured in with brief descriptions on the design and function of each piece.

We hold a complete set of Ackermann’s Repository of Arts which have been bound into 40 Volumes. They are free for the public to view as long as you bring some form of ID with you. You can view our catalogue entry for The Repository of Arts here.

Red Prominade dress 1825

This is a red promenade dress from 1825. 

The above image taken from the Repository of Arts is part of our ‘Treasures of Guildhall Library’ Photowall, located in our John Stow Room, which celebrates some of our most iconic and interesting items.

By Lindsey Keeling, Customer Services Apprentice

Guildhall Library Collections: Photowall Exhibition


On Thursday 3rd of October we unveiled our newest Photowall which celebrates some of the iconic items in our collections. Unlike previous editions of photo walls, this version is not attached to one of our current exhibitions. Instead this Photowall will become a semi-permanent feature in the library to showcase some of our most stunning and beautiful items.

With a wide variety of items which show the varied range of our collections, from the Nuremburg Chronicle to Sleeping Beauty and other Fairy Tales, this Photowall will be a must see feature in the library’s John Stow Room.

Among the 26 photographs are two items which are not readily available for public consultation and are therefore rarely seen by the public, these are Shakespeare’s First Folio and Edward Curtis’s The North American Indian.

Lindsey Keeling, Customer Services Apprentice.


The Vampyre Regency Ball 2019

Close Up 9

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of John Polidori’s novel The Vampyre. John Polidori was a London born writer and physician who famously accompanied Lord Byron on his trip through Europe in 1816, where they encountered Mary Wollstonecraft and her soon to be husband Percy Bysshe Shelly at Lake Geneva, Switzerland. It was this encounter which inspired Polidori to write his gothic novel The Vampyre.

First published in The New Monthly Magazine in April 1819, The Vampyre was falsely attributed to Lord Byron despite both Byron and Polidori denying that he was the author. Later in 1819 it was published in book form and called The Vampyre: a Tale. It was still falsely attributed to Byron and was only corrected in later editions. A first edition copy of this book is available to view at Guildhall Library. 

The Vampyre

This is the front page taken from our copy of The Vampyre 


To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publication of The Vampyre, we invite you to attend The Vampyre Regency Ball which is to be held on Friday 6th of September. Discover for yourself what it might have been like to attend a Regency Ball in a historical setting with expert dance tuition from Mrs Bennet’s Ballroom and live Regency music from Fortuna Trio. Regency dress is encouraged.


Friday 6th September


Livery Hall Guildhall, Basinghall Street

London, EC2V 5DH


£40 plus booking fee.

£30 Full time students

To book: or in person without the booking fee at:

Guildhall Library

Aldermanbury, London, EC2V 7HH.

020 7332 1871 or 020 7332 1868.