New Library Exhibition: Sir Thomas Gresham: Tudor, Trader, Shipper, Spy.

Gresham scan 1

Portrait Illustration of Sir Thomas Gresham Taken from The Lives of the Professors of Gresham College

Find out about Sir Thomas Gresham and some of the treasures from Gresham College library on display at Guildhall Library from Monday 3rd of June to mid-September.

Sir Thomas Gresham (1519-79) is possibly the best known of all sixteenth century English merchants and financiers. Gresham served four Tudor monarchs, managed to keep his head, and all the while made money. Sir Thomas helped to make London a great international financial centre by importing from Antwerp the idea of a ‘bourse’ or ‘exchange’ for items such as shipping and insurance. He installed the first English shopping mall or bazaar as the first floor in the Royal Exchange. His Will challenged the domination of Oxbridge in higher education at the time.

Gresham scan 2

Illustration of the original Gresham College taken from The Lives of the Professors of Gresham College

Part of the Library of Gresham College (founded in 1596 under the provisions of the will of Sir Thomas Gresham) the collections were deposited in Guildhall Library 17th December 1958 by the Joint Grand Gresham Committee, a joint committee of the City of London Corporation and the Mercers’ Company, and are held under an agreement of 6th January 1959.

The collections consist of two parts; one of miscellaneous works, mainly travel (circa 381 printed items); and one of music, mainly scores, parts, etc., based on a collection formed at the College by Edward Taylor (1784-1863), Gresham Professor of Music from 1837, and covering principally English and other European music, 16th-18th centuries (circa 324 printed books, plus 123 manuscripts). No new items have been added in recent years.

Purcell Close up

Close up of Henry Purcell’s book of solo songs which is on display at Guildhall Library

The Fletcher’s Company Library at Guildhall Library


An illustration of an archer from Archery its Theory and Practice by Horace A. Ford

First established by the Worshipful Company of Fletchers in 1973, this unique collection of items relating to archery is one of our lesser known collections. It comprises of a variety of items on the history and practice of archery. While most of the items focus on the history of British archery, books on Japanese, Turkish, Arabic and Native American archery can also be found in the collection.

Royal Company of Archers David Earl of Wemyss

A copy of a painting of David, 4th Earl of Wemyss from The History of the Royal Company of Archers by James Balfour Paul

The word fletcher comes from the French word ‘fleche’ meaning arrow. Therefore, a Fletcher is a person who makes arrows, in particular the feathers attached to the end of the arrow which help keep it aerodynamic. A number of books in the collection contain illustrations of various arrow types in particular the different types of arrow heads.

Archery Its Theory and Parctice arrow heads

Illustrations of the various types of arrow heads from Archery its Theory and Practice by Horace A. Ford

The Fletchers and Longbowstringmakers of London by James E. Oxley is an account of the history of the Fletchers’ Company. There is no mention of the company until 7th March 1371 when the Fletchers petitioned to the Lord Mayor to separate the trades of Fletchers (arrow makers) and Bowyers (bow makers). With their petition granted, the Worshipful Company of Fletchers was founded. As far as we know the Company has never received a charter and is therefore a Company by prescription. A Grant of Arms was awarded to the company on the 12th of October 1467.

Fletchers Coat of Arms

The Fletchers Company Coat of Arms (MS 21116)

The military importance of the bow is a key theme running throughout the collection, in particular British battles in which archery played an important role. A good book to look at is The British Archer or, Tracts on British Archery by Thomas Hastings which lists some of the important battles which were won by British archers. It also lists some of the Monarchs killed by an arrow, such as William II who was accidentally killed whilst hunting in the New Forest and Richard I who was mortally wounded whilst besieging a castle in France, as well as a brief description of some of the monarchs who were noted to have had great skill in archery.

Book of Archery Henry VIII and Elizabeth I

Illustrations of Henry VIII and Elisabeth I from The Book of Archery by George Agar Hansard

Another theme which runs through the collection is the story of Robert Fitzooth. More commonly known as Robin Hood, his story mentioned in several different books in the collection. Anecdotes of Archery by E. Hargrove, for example, includes a family tree of Robin Hood and explains why his name changed from Fitzooth to Hood. In the Ballads of Archery by James William Dodd a number of songs about Robin Hood, Marian and Little John.


Robin Hood Family Tree

The family tree of Robin Hood from Anecdotes of Archery by E. Hargrove


By Lindsey Keeling

Customer Services Apprentice

Guildhall Library

Menus from the Newall Dunn Collection at Guildhall Library

One of the highlights of unpacking our new collection has been the discovery of these beautifully designed menus which complement our internationally important food and drink collections.

This menu was printed by the Parisian company Lemercier and produced with ready-made spaces for the shipping company to fill in the dishes of the day. This particular menu was completed for the 1st Class passengers aboard the mail boat “Yarra” for 29th April 1890.

This Norddeutscher Lloyd breakfast menu offers quite a feast. The dishes offered include Saratoga Chips – a nineteenth-century crisp. This menu, written in German and English, was eaten and hopefully enjoyed aboard the steamer “Jahn” on 17th July 1899.

In the twentieth-century the Union-Castle Line produced beautiful menus to reflect their destinations including series depicting South African flowers and animals. The collection also offers a variety of menus depicting birds such as the waxwing and the kingfisher.









Union-Castle employed artist Will Owen (1869-1957), of Bisto Kids fame, to design a series of menus for their tourist-class, fancy-dress dinners. These portrayed literary characters from Shakespeare and Dickens; those below depict Falstaff, Dolly Varden and Sam Weller.

We have four volunteers and Guildhall Library staff working on listing, cataloguing and conserving the Newall Dunn Collection to enable us to make it accessible to library users. In the meantime, you can get a preview of just some of the collection by visiting our exhibition “Merchant Navy Treasures” which continues until 24th May. This offers displays on Union-Castle, Orient and Cunard Lines but the wider collection covers international cargo and passenger ships as well as smaller vessels such as tugs and fishing boats.

The Newall Dunn Collection was built by shipping historian Peter Newall and was gifted to Guildhall Library in 2018.

Jeanie Smith, Assistant Librarian.

Merchant Navy Treasures: An Introduction to the Newall Dunn Collection at Guildhall Library

The New Year finds us busy preparing our next exhibition and looking forward to showing you our new maritime collection. Many of you will have seen and consulted the Lloyd’s Marine Collection at Guildhall Library, a valuable source of information about ships, shipping movements and marine news and casualties. In the coming months, we will be able to offer shipping historians and enthusiasts a superb addition in the shape of the Newall Dunn Collection, which comprises one of the world’s richest photographic and ephemera resources for Merchant Shipping history.

This treasure trove offers material from about 1880 to the turn of the twenty-first century, featuring an extensive series of images of ocean-going liners, cruise ships, cargo vessels – in fact vessels of all types and sizes.

In addition, there are over three hundred information files consisting of press releases and cuttings going back to the early 1930s, shipping company brochures, menus & other ephemera representing a wide-ranging pictorial history.

The collection was built by shipping historian Peter Newall and was gifted to Guildhall Library in 2018. The resource he compiled includes material and photographs amassed by several previous shipping enthusiasts and writers. The most important of these was writer and artist Laurence Dunn but also includes work created by Captain Emile Sigwart of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and photographs of ships on the Thames by Jeffrey Curtis taken in the 1930s.

In the coming months and years there is a good deal of work to be done to catalogue and conserve the collection and gradually make it all accessible to users – volunteers welcome! The forthcoming exhibition will offer a flavour of what is to come, and we hope many of you will find time to drop by to take a look and come to the accompanying talk and workshops. While you are with us, we would like as many of you as possible to share stories and memories of your own journeys by sea or of Merchant Navy Service, and there will be space in the exhibition for you to sit and write these as well as look through some of the collectors’ publications which are held by Guildhall Library.

The exhibition opens on Monday 28th January 2019 and is on until 24th May. We haven’t space to highlight all the strengths of the collection but for this initial introduction we will be showing material on the Union-Castle, Orient and Cunard Lines. We are honoured that Stephen Payne, designer of the Queen Mary II will be launching the exhibition with an evening talk on 29th January. His talk is on the subject of his recent publication, co-authored with the late Peter Newall, on “Orient Line: The Last Great Liners”. You will find further details and can book your place via or by contacting us on 020 7332 1871.

Jeanie Smith, Assistant Librarian

Women, Work and the City of London

They have a cheek I’ve never been asked to by Emily Ford, 1908 Copyright Museum of London

As part of the Women, Work and Power celebrations taking place across the City of London the Guildhall Library’s new exhibition looks at the Women, Work and the City of London. Women fighting for equality at the start of the 20th century were looking for examples from the past to counteract the Victorian rhetoric of the day about the “natural” woman’s place being that of a homemaker. Activists wrote about the conditions of employment for women of the working class and how that needed to be improved. Historians and economists looked at how women’s work had changed with the rise of capitalism and industrialisation. One of the key texts on this topic is Alice Clark’s Working Women of the Seventeenth Century, first published in 1919. The book has been reprinted many times and remains a source frequently quoted by modern historians.
Alice Clark’s research focused on women working in the seventeenth century. At the time of her research women were no longer able to join many of the guilds, so discovering women had been able to do so in the past strengthened her views that women should have greater opportunities in the present.

Alice Clark from the Women’s Library LSE

Following on from Alice Clark’s example, this exhibition will look at the different roles women had within the London Guilds how their work was recorded in or, as in some cases, left out of the official records.
The exhibition features manuscripts from the 15th to the 18th centuries. The earliest is the Porlond manuscript from the Brewers Company. Written 600 years ago between 1418 and 1438. It shows that a third of the membership were women either working independently or in partnership with a husband. Between 1418 to 1424 there were between 78 and 152 women who paid their company dues each year.

Image from the Porlond Manuscipt, London Metropolitan Archives, City of London, Ref CLC/L/BF/A/021/MS05440

The exhibition also looks at women as apprentices and mistresses, often joining guilds that weren’t related to the trade they were practicing. The guild manuscripts give us a picture of how women were able to learn a trade and carry out their businesses within the City of London.
Many events associated with the exhibition have already sold out but there are still tickets for the following events, including the exhibition launch on the 18th of September.

Exhibition launch: Work and freedom: women in the London companies
Tuesday 18th September 18:00-20:00
The City of London was unique in England in requiring women as well as men to take the freedom of the city in order to trade within its jurisdiction. The records generated by that process allow unusual insight into the nature of urban women’s business activity in the 17th and 18th centuries. Feminist historians in the early 20th century discovered this evidence and used it to reinforce arguments for women’s suffrage and employment rights. Today further research is recasting the history of women’s work in early modern London.

Walk Suffragette City (of London)
Tuesday 25 September 17.30-19.00
This walk by Laura Miller celebrates centuries of women working, trading, influencing and helping to build the City. In this walk suffragettes are part of a rich historic tapestry. On our way we’ll meet rowdy individualists, steely businesswomen and skilled artisans. Wandering through alley ways, and grand thoroughfares we’ll encounter women who have thrived, survived and left their mark, if you know where to look, on the streets of the City. We’ll also run into Queens, aristocrats and, of course, suffragettes along the way.
£10 on the day no advance booking required.
Meet next to The Monument, Fish Hill Street, EC3R 8AH.

The exhibition is open now until January 2019.
Melanie Strong, Assistant Librarian

State Trials at Guildhall: Henry Garnett or Garnet 1555-1606

Henry Garnet
From a portrait by Jan Wiericx

Following on from a blog last summer about the trial of Lady Jane Grey at Guildhall, I would like to explore the trial of Henry Garnett, a Jesuit priest, which took place at the Guildhall in 1606.

Henry Garnett (1555–1606) was an English priest of the Catholic Jesuit order.
The Jesuits were a religious order founded by Ignatius of Loyola and approved by Pope Paul III in 1540. Loyola was a nobleman and former soldier, who discovered his spiritual devotion after being wounded in battle. Members of the Jesuit Society were expected to accept orders anywhere in the world, where they might be required to live in extreme conditions. Thus, the opening lines of the founding document declared that the society was founded for “whoever desires to serve as a soldier of God” (

In 1586, Garnett and another Jesuit Robert Southwell were sent to England to succeed to Jesuit Superior in England, should anything happen to Weston, the incumbent. The Jesuits were banished from England in 1585 so Garnett and other Jesuits ministered and worshipped in secret. There were very few Jesuits in England and most had been imprisoned. The Jesuits needed a network of safe houses to protect them from raids. The government increased surveillance and renewed persecution of the order in the wake of the discovery of the Babington Plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth and the planned invasion of England by Philip II of Spain. Weston was captured and arrested within a month of Garnett arriving in England and accordingly Garnett became the Jesuit Superior in England.

Anti-Catholic sentiment was high after the successful defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, and the government wanted to formulate an oath whereby Catholics could proclaim their allegiance to the queen. The government required Catholics to deny the pope’s authority in England. However, Catholics argued that they would show the queen the same obedience owed to any secular prince and would do so until such a time as a papal bull excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I.

Being the leader of the banned Jesuits in the face of increased government persecution weighed heavily on Garnett’s shoulders. Things went from bad to worse after capture of his friend Southwell in June 1592. Garnett wrote: ‘While I cannot help myself in my sadness and anxiety … deprived as I am now of my companion, my dearest father and my helper [I await] his greatest achievements yet’ (Caraman, Garnet, 151).
At Southwell’s trial prosecutor Sir Edward Coke attacked the Jesuit for his use of the controversial doctrine of equivocation. Equivocation was a Jesuit logic that allowed Catholics to avoid incriminating themselves or others, without lying in the eyes of God. This included techniques such as not speaking in complete sentences and finished them by adding any qualification silently in one’s head, with the object of misleading the auditor. Unsurprisingly, English authorities distrusted equivocation: they viewed it as sinful and lying and an attack on language and meaning.

Southwell was executed at Tyburn on 21 February 1595. Garnett implored the Superior General of the Society of Jesuits, Claudio Acquaviva, to send him an assistant who would succeed him as superior. Henry Walpole was sent. Captured soon after his arrival in December 1593, Walpole was executed in York on 7 April 1595.

Upon the accession of James I, Garnett was enthusiastic about Catholic prospects in England. He wrote to fellow Jesuit Robert Persons on 16 April 1603: ‘Great hope [there] is of toleration: and so general a consent of Catholics in the [King’s] proclaiming [that] it seemeth God will work much’ (Caraman, Garnet, 305).

Ahead of his accession to the English throne, James had courted English Catholics and hinted at, but not promised, religious tolerance. Expectation among Catholics quickly turned to disappointment and anger. Rumours of Catholic plots and conspiracies even reached Rome. The Superior General of the Jesuits ordered Garnett to do everything he could to prevent Catholics from resorting to violence.

On 25 July 1605, in confession, and therefore under oath not to disclose anything from his penitent, Garnett learned of a plot from the Jesuit Oswald Tesimond. Tesimond, Robert Catesby’s confessor had been given permission by his penitent to discuss a ‘case of conscience’ with his confessor and superior Garnett. However, despite his admonitions, and warnings, Garnett failed to prevent the Gunpowder Plot. The date of the fifth of November will ever be remembered in English history and continues to be marked by bonfires and firework displays today. The discovery of the plot ended any chance of religious toleration of Catholics and provoked a frantic search for the conspirators and their associates.

On 15 January 1606 the government issued a proclamation for Garnett’s arrest along with Tesimond. It described Garnett as:
of a middling Stature, full Faced, Fatte of body, of Complexion faire: his Forehead high on each side, with a little thinne Haire comming down upon the middest of the forepart of his Head: the Haire of his Head and Beard griseled: of Age betweene fiftie and threescore: his Beard on his Cheekes cut close, on his Chinne but thinne, and somewhat short: his Gate upright, and comely for a Fatte man.
Larkin and Hughes, 133

Garnett was arrested on the 27th Jan and appeared for his first examination on 13 February. He was transferred from the Gatehouse prison to the Tower of London the next day. In early March he was charged with complicity in the Gunpowder Plot and tortured. His trial in the Guildhall began on 28 March. Among those on the bench was Sir John Popham who had known Garnett before he had become a Jesuit and was now chief justice of the king’s bench. According to Coke, Garnett, the instigator of the plot:
hath many gifts and endowments of nature, by art learned, a good linguist and, by profession, a Jesuit and a Superior as indeed he is Superior to all his predecessors in devilish treason, a Doctor of Dissimulation, Deposing of Princes, Disposing of Kingdoms, Daunting and deterring of subjects, and Destruction.
Caraman, Garnet, 403

The Arraignment of Henry Garnet from A Compleat collection of state-tryals and proceedings upon impeachments for high treason and other crimes and misdemeanours 1719 vol. 1.
Guildhall Library Store 62

Garnett defended himself against all Coke’s charges and explained Catholic teaching on papal power and equivocation which Coke had attacked during the trial. The court found Garnett guilty as charged and sentenced him to death. He was hanged, drawn, and quartered on 3 May 1606 in St Paul’s Churchyard, London.

Very soon after his execution, London theatregoers were reminded of the sinister reputation Garnett’s defence of equivocation had earned to him in protestant eyes. The porter in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, welcomes imaginary visitors, an equivocator (Garnett) and a farmer (Farmer was one of Garnett’s pseudonyms) at the gate of hell (Inverness Castle), making mocking references to Garnett and his trial: ‘Faith, here’s an equivocator that could swear in both the scales against either scale, who committed treason enough for God’s sake, yet could not equivocate to heaven’ (Macbeth, ii.iii, 7–11).

Venerated by English Catholics as a martyr, there were even relics associated with Garnett, one being the famous ‘straw’, upon which a drop of Garnett’s blood bore a strong resemblance to his face which was later lost during the French Revolution. Superior General Acquaviva allowed Garnett’s cause for canonization to be initiated but the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773 halted its progression. While Garnett’s name was originally included in the list of martyrs submitted to Rome in 1874 by the archdiocese of Westminster, it was subsequently removed because of fear of possible political involvement, and it has yet to be reintroduced.

By: Isabelle Chevallot
Assistant Librarian, Guildhall Library

Philip Caraman, Henry Garnet, 1555–1606, and the Gunpowder Plot (1964)
Guildhall Library Shelfmark: B:G 235

J. F. Larkin and P. L. Hughes, eds., Royal proclamations of King James I, 1603–1625 (1973)
Guildhall Library Shelf mark: 348:02

Shakespeare Third Folio
Mr. William Shakespeares comedies, histories, and tragedies : Published according to the true originall copies…and unto this impression is added seven playes, never before printed in folio: viz. Pericles Prince of Tyre. The London prodigal. The history of Thomas Lord Cromwel. Sir John Oldcastle Lord Cobham. The puritan widow. A York-shire tragedy. The tragedy of Locrine. Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616.
London : printed [by Roger Daniel, Alice Warren, and another] for P[hilip] C[hetwind], 1664.
The third folio.
Guildhall Library Shelf mark AN 19.3.4 (Please note you will need to bring one form of ID, such as a passport or driving licence or any library or archive membership card, with you when you visit in order to consult this item as is designated rare.)

A link to examination of Henry Garnett from the National Archives

London in Four Suits: Clubs – A Talk Review

One in a series of four talks by Peter Smith, each adopting a suit from a deck of playing cards; April 10th’s talk was based around the theme of ‘clubs’. Pete took listeners on a whistle-stop tour of various parishes, trade guilds, fraternities, and other such groups that have found a home in the City of London through the years. I had the opportunity to listen to this fascinating talk and find some items from the library and archive collections.

Pete discussed such a wide range of communities and places in his talk, and it would be impossible to do justice to all of these in one blog post. For this post, I am going to look at two places in the City of London which have been central to life in the City.
The first theme is the Parish community. A group of people defined by locality, united by common faith and a shared space. Parish boundaries were taught quite enthusiastically in some cases through the ‘beating the bounds’ ceremony, where parishioners would walk around the boundary to know the area, and to instil a sense of community. Often, they would ‘beat’ the boundary with sticks. The ceremony still takes place today in several parishes across England on Ascension Day, including the City’s oldest Church, All Hallows by the Tower.

As you can see from this invitation to the ceremony for the Parish of St Giles in Cripplegate from the London Metropolitan Archives main print collection (Collage Number 2685), the event was a highlight of the community calendar, and a method for the parish churches to collect much needed funds!

From the well-established parish communities of the city, we move to a new space for people to gather, do business and associate with one another. The coffee house grew in popularity in the City in the mid to late 1600’s. Charles II tried to have coffee houses suppressed in 1675 due to growing concerns that they were places for those against the crown to meet and cast defamation against the monarchy. From a proclamation from the King in 1691: “…that many tradesmen and others, do therein mis spend much of their time which might and probably would otherwise be imployed in and about the Lawful Callings and Affairs…” [ Guildhall Library PROC 13.75]. The suppression, however did not stick, and coffee houses continued to flourish in the city and elsewhere. The coffee house earnt quite the reputation for loud, sometimes rowdy political discussions and were a source for satire.

The following verse is from the 1691 poem: The School of Politicks: or, The humours of a coffee-house: a poem. Which is available for reference in the Guildhall Library [A 9.4 NO 1 IN 47]. Verses four and five show the various people who frequented the coffee house, and how all parts of society, regardless of standing came together to discuss the affairs of the day:

The place no manner of distinction knew,
‘Twixt Christian, Heathen, Turk, or Jew,
The Fool and the Philosopher
Sate close by one another here,
And Quality no more was understood
Than Mathematicks were before the Floud.
Here sate a Knight, by him a rugged Sailer;
Next him a Son of Mars,
Adorn’d with honourable Scars;
By them a Courtier, and a Woman’s Taylor:
A Tradesman and a grave Divine,
Sate talking of affairs beyond the Line;
Whilst in a Corner of the Room
Sate a fat Quack the fam’d Poetick Tom,
Pleas’d to hear Advertisements read,
Where ‘mongst lost Dogs, and other fav’rite Breed,
His famous Pills were chronicled:
The half Box eighteen Pills for eighteen Pence,
Though ’tis too cheap in any Man’s own Sense.
Lawyers and Clients, Sharpers and their Cullies,
Quakers, Pimps, Atheists, Mountebanks and Bullies,
Clean or unclean, if here they call,
The place, like Noah’s Ark, receives ’em all.
Had Lilbourn been alive to see
This Hotch-potch of Society,
Some other measures he had ta’en,
When he the Work of Levelling began;
For All here stand on equal ground.
As I have seen in Storms at Sea,
For common safety all are willing found,
To hawl a Cable, guide an Oar,
To stem the Tide, and bring the Ship to Shoar;
So in this School of Polity,
Each thinks himself as much concern’d as they
Who sit in Council Chamber ev’ry day;
And all their Maxims have a share
Of the Professions which their Masters are.
The quick-eye’d Sectary pretends to see
Under Lawn Sleeves the growth of Popery.
The Smith upon the Anvil of his Brain
Forms a new Commonwealth again.
The Carpenter in his projecting Pate
Makes Props t’uphold the tott’ring State:
The Quack too, with his Close-stool Face,
Does with his senseless Reasons urge,
The British Islands want a Purge:
And Ah!—Were he but once in Place,
He’d—but there stops, and thinks the Age not fit
To know the Wonders of his mighty Wit.

This anonymous satirical engraving from 1772 comes from the London Metropolitan Archive’s satirical prints collection [Collage p5383313]. It depicts the interior of a London Coffee-house. The clientele is engaged in conversation and the “London Gazette”, a popular newspaper at the time can be seen to be used. Such satire pointed out how anyone could engage in politics and current affairs, just through meeting in one of these houses.

Pete’s next talk is a continuation of the London in Four Suits theme. On Thursday 17th May, he will be raising a glass to London luxury in his ‘Diamonds’ talk. For more information about this talk, and to see all of Guildhall Library’s events, please visit

By: Katie Lissamore
Library Student on placement at Guildhall Library



Under the Microscope

Our current exhibition is ‘Under the Microscope’, a homage to the life and work of Olive Elizabeth Aykroyd by her daughter, Mary Pritchard. Olive studied Natural Sciences at Trinity College Dublin in the 1930s, and the exhibition brings together a variety of media and archival material, from biological slides and scientific papers to photographs and letters, revealing the personal history of Olive the scientist.

Olive was born in Dublin in 1913 into a protestant Anglo-Irish family, the youngest child of five. Education was highly regarded in the family. Olive was encouraged to go to university, although it was still a privilege for women in the 1930s.

At Trinity College Dublin (TCD) Olive took a degree in Natural Sciences which covered a wide spectrum of subjects, among which students could specialise. Although TCD was a pioneer is some respects about admitting women and granting them degrees, in the 1930s and 40s there was huge discrimination against women. For example, they were not allowed to eat in the same canteen as the men. Olive’s research was mainly around oogenesis (the formation of the ovum or egg) and she received high praise from all her supervisors for her skills and achievements.

In December 1941 Olive married Thomas Walter Freeman. They had three children who were all born in Dublin, but the family moved to England in December 1949 after Walter obtained a post in the Geography Department at Manchester University. Olive stopped doing her research and working outside the home after she got married to Walter (who was an academic all his working life). She only returned to work outside the home after about 20 years of marriage.

Mary says: ‘This exhibition is a tribute to my mother, Olive Elizabeth Aykroyd. When I was growing up I knew little of her early life as she never really spoke about it and I never thought to ask (she was very modest and unassuming, always putting others’ needs before her own).

‘When she died, I inherited her brass microscope and laboratory slides and have always been fascinated by them. I decided to research her early life – by putting it ‘Under the Microscope’. I looked at her life prior to marriage and having children and this exhibition covers the period from her birth in 1913 until her marriage in December 1941. It turned out that my brothers had many more documents, albums, drawings etc which I had not known about, which I was then able to collate and use. This exhibition is based on my mother’s extensive archive of scientific papers, biological slides, documents, letters, drawings, photograph albums, reminiscences from family members and my own personal research.

‘Working through her archive has been an emotional journey of discovery which has increased my understanding of her as a person and what was important to her. I see the exhibition as a collaboration between my mother and myself – it is an amalgam of her archive, an evocation of her milieu and my own artwork. All the work I have produced has been inspired by or derived from her archive and further research about the context in which she lived and worked. The exhibition looks at aspects of feminism and the issue of women in science and, on a more personal level, concerns the mother-daughter relationship, maternal loss, memory and the creative use of a family archive.’

The exhibition is at Guildhall Library until 16 May, and is free to visit.

By: Amy Burgess, Events and Exhibitions Officer

Frost Fairs on the River Thames

With winter upon us, it is interesting to ponder winters past in London. The river Thames froze solid numerous times between 1309 and 1814. We have evidence in contemporary paintings and prints of at least five occasions, when a sustained period of cold weather made it possible to hold Frost Fairs on the river: 1683, 1715, 1739, 1789, and 1814. All the Frost Fairs took place upstream of Old London Bridge, because the bridge impeded the flow of the river, and therefore precipitated freezing.

The Great Frost of 1683-84 began at the start of December, continuing over Christmas, and lasted until the 4th of February 1684. The fair offered plenty of attractions including a whole ox roasted on the ice, stilt walking, hunting a fox, and even a printing booth to provide people with a permanent souvenir of their visit to the fair. King Charles II’s visit was recorded with a printed memento which is now in the Museum of London.

View of a frost fair on the River Thames with eating, drinking and entertainment booths stretching across the ice. Figures travel by horse-drawn carriages, skates, boats with wheels and boats transformed into sledges. In the distance London Bridge can be seen.

Date of Execution 1683, Main Print Collection London Metropolitan Archives, engraving.
A view of the Frost Fair of 1683-84 which is freely available to view on Collage- The Picture Archive, a collection of images and prints from London Metropolitan Archives.

View of a frost fair on the River Thames with eating, drinking and entertainment booths stretching across the frozen river. The lower margin contains a key.
Date of Execution c1684 London Metropolitan Archives Main Print Collection Engraver

An extract from Blanket-Fair, or the History of Temple Street, Being a relation of the merry Pranks plaid on the River Thames during the Great Frost. Published in London Corbet 1684. Available to consult at Guildhall Library Bside 7.159 Please note proof of ID is required to consult this item.

Here damsels and handed like Nymphs in the Bath
By Gentlemen ushers with Legs like a Lath;
They slide to a Tune and cry give me your Hand,
When the tottering Fops are scarce able to stand.
Then with fear and with care
They arrive at the Fair,
Where Wenches sell Glasses and crackt Earthen ware:
To shew that the World, and the pleasures it brings,
Are made up of brittle and slippery things.

A Spark of the Bar with his Cane and his Muff,
One day went to treat his new rigg’d kitchinstuff,
Let slip from her Gallant, the gay Damel try’d
(As oft she had done in the Countrey) to slide
In the way lay a stump
That with a dam’d thump
She broke both her shoostringes and crippl’d her Rump.
The heat of her Buttocks made such a great thaw,
She had like to have drowned the man of the Law.

All you that are warm both in Body and Purse.
I give you this warning for better or worse,
Be not there in the Moonshine, pray take my advice,
For slippery things have been done on the Ice
Maids trhere have bin said
To lose Madien-head,
And Sparks from full Pockets gone empty to Bed.
If their Brains and their Bodies had not bin too warm,
‘tis forty to one they had come to less harm

There were further Frost Fairs in 1715-16 and 1739-4

View of a frost fair on the River Thames looking towards London Bridge, c1715, woodcut.
London Metropolitan Archives, Main Print Collection.

The caption reads:
Behold the Liquid Thames now frozen o’re,
That lately ships of mighty Burthen bore.
The Watermen for want of Rowing-boats,
Make use of Booths to get their Pence and Groats.
Here you may print your Name, tho’ cannot write,
‘Cause num’d with Cold; ‘tis done with great delight.
Then lay it by, that Ages yet to come,
May see what Things upon the Ice were done.

A. The Nine-pin Playing.
B. Cripple Atkins roasting an Ox.
C. Boys sliding
D. The Printing Booth
E. The Musick Booth
F. A shoulder of Mutton roasting in a String at the Sign of the Rat in a Cage.
G. The Tavern
H. The Rowling Press
I. The Geneva Booth [where gin is sold]
J. The Gingerbread Stall
K. The Goldsmiths
L. Huffing Jack.
M. Will. Ellis, the Post and his Wife Bess, Rhiming on the hard frost.

A painting of the Frost Fair of 1739 by Jan Griffier the Younger can be viewed at Guildhall Art Gallery. This is a view from near Westminster, looking down the river towards London Bridge.

Great Frost of 1739
“The Thames During the Great Frost of 1739”; showing the Frost Fair in the foreground and figures inspecting the incomplete piers of Westminster Bridge on the right. In the distance is a view of the City of London including St Paul’s Cathedral and spires of the City churches. By Jan Griffier the Younger (dc. 1750)

Executed in 1739, this oil painting is in the permanent collection at Guildhall Art Gallery:

Over the next page is a memento of the Frost Fair of 1740 printed upon the frozen Thames for a Miss Elizabeth Roberts.

View of a frost fair on the River Thames. A printing booth and coffee stalls can be seen on the ice. The etching was printed in 1740
London Metropolitan Archives: Main Print Collection.

Icedore Frostiface (pseudonym) writes An Account of All the Principal Frosts for above a Hundred Years past.

An Account of all the Principal Frosts for above an hundred years past : with political remarks and poetical descriptions. To which are added, a philosophical theory of freezing; and a frigid essay upon frost-fair / By Icedore Frostiface, of Freesland, astrologer (pseud.).
Frostiface, Icedore (pseud.)
(London): Printed and sold at the Goldeen (!) King’s-Head Printing Booth, in Frost Fair and by C. Corbett, 1740.
Bound in half calf.
Available to consult at Guildhall Library: shelfmark-A 5.1 NO 26. Please note proof of ID is required.

An extract from A frigid essay upon frost fair where the author admonishes against a ‘barbarous custom’…

For, if by Chance, unable to convey
Too great a Weight, the parting Ice give way:
Or the bright Knots which on its Surface rise,
O’erturn the blushing Dame before your Eyes,
What Shouts, what Laughter fill the echoing Skies?
No Pity in one merry Face appears;
The Fair, o’erwhelm’d with Jokes instead of Tears;
Her treach’rous Feet, and Garments as they flow,
Laments, and blames the whistling Winds that blow,
And heave her swelling Train, exposing all below.

In the winter of 1788-1789 the Thames froze extensively: from Putney Bridge to Rotherhithe. In the engraving below people are drinking and dancing in a makeshift tent. Suspended above them is a cat in in a cage and the caption above it reads ‘The Original Cat in the Cage by T. Roberts.”

View of boats on the River Thames at Rotherhithe during the frost of 1789. Figures can be seen eating and drinking in the foreground.
Date of Execution is 1789 London Metropolitan Archives: Main Print Collection
The artist is Samuel, George (fl.1786-1823)
Engraver Birch, W.
Publisher Birch, William (1755-1834)

The last Frost Fair of February 1814 lasted only a week. Thousands of people paid 2d or 3d entry tolls to the Watermen who, having been done out of a livelihood by the freeze, dug channels in the ice by the banks of the river and asked for payment for assisting people across to the fair. See satire below by George Cruikshank from 1814.

“Gambols on the river Thames, Feby. 1814”; shows a frost fair in the region of Blackfriars Bridge. To the right in the foreground is a waterman with skittles and behind him a man’s wooden leg has caught in the ice. To the right is a printing press and in the centre a woman has slipped on the ice next to a fiddler playing music as a couple dances.
Executed in 1814. Available to view at London Metropolitan Archives. Artist and engraver Cruikshank, George (1792-1878)

View of a frost fair on the River Thames with street sellers, musicians, fairground rides and refreshment booths. St Paul’s Cathedral can be seen in the distance.
Date of Execution 1814. Available at London Metropolitan Archives. Artist Clennell, Luke (1781-1840) Engraver Clennell, Luke (1781-1840); Reeve (fl.c.1760) Medium: etching/aquatint.

See below a detailed print of the Frost Fair of 1814 showing a long queue of visitors waiting to have their names printed as a souvenir of their visit to the fair.

View of a frost fair on the River Thames in 1814, copperplate and letterpress printers can be seen at work on the ice and in the foreground a hot mutton pie seller is approached by two customers. The City of London can be seen in the background. Date of Execution: 1814. Available to consult at London Metropolitan Archives. Engraver anon. Publisher: Pitts, John (1765-1844)

The poem beneath the print reads:
All you that are curious downright
And fond of seeing every sight,
If to the Thames you had repaired
You might have seen a famous fair.
Diversions of every kind you’ll see
With parties drinking of coffee and tea,
And dancing too I do declare
Upon the Thames they call Frost Fair

It was really curious for to see
Both old and young so full of glee
The drinking booths they entered in
And call’d away for purl and Gin
Some played at Threadle my Needle Nan
The lasses slipt down as they ran
Which made the men quite full of glee
The young girls’ legs for all to see.

The Watermen so neat and trim
With bottle filled with Old Tom’s Gin
And others bawled among the throng
Who’s for a glass of Sampson strong?
Here’s nuts and gingerbread: who buys?
Come, boys, and win my mutton pies.
Come, ladies, they’re both hot and nice;
Fear not to eat one on the ice.

Boys, men and women not a few
Upon the ice they ventured too
And swings there were I do declare
To take a ride up in the air
And booths wherein you might regale
And have a pint of beer or ale,
And skittle playing I do declare
Upon the Thames they call Frost Fair.

Now to conclude my icy song
I’m glad to see the frost is gone
And ships and barges all afloat
And Watermen rowing of their boats
Black Diamond barges do appear,
That coals they may not be so dear
So toss a bumper off with cheer,
And bid adieu to Frosty Fair.

The demolition of old London Bridge in 1831 improved the flow of the Thames, preventing it from freezing over, and making it highly improbable that there will ever again be a frost fair on the Thames in London.

Isabelle Chevallot
Assistant Librarian, Guildhall Library.

Collage, the City of London Picture Archive is available free online:

London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Road, London, EC1R 0HB. Their email address is and their website can be found at

London Metropolitan Archives currently has a digital exhibition entitled Frozen London:

Guildhall Library
Telephone: 020 7332 1868 or 1870
Visit our Website at
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Carolling in the Collections


Much loved Christmas carols will be sung across the City in special services this month and many of us will go along and sing words and tunes which have been a part of our enjoyment of the season since childhood.

A carol was originally a joyful song which could be sung at any time of year, but the word carol gradually became associated with the songs and hymns sung during Advent and Christmas time.

It has not always been ‘respectable’ to sing Christmas carols in church let alone sing wassails. Indeed they were often seen as worldly and irreverent and not fit for the service of God.  In these days of broader tastes and a more relaxed approach to what can be sung in church, perhaps one would not be at all surprised if the church choir burst into a chorus of Roy Wood’s “I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day” or even the ubiquitous Slade, both of which have a celebratory tone.

The survival and success of music for Christmas in churches has had a chequered and remarkable history. It came close to demise during the Civil War period following a Parliamentary order for the demolition of church organs on the 9th May 1644.  The Parliamentarians are unlikely to have been objecting to music itself, just its use in church which was seen as frivolous and irreverent.  After the Restoration the old music resurfaced in churches and in some places it had never been submerged. This revival included the singing of unaccompanied psalms and the formation of church bands and quires (choirs).  Old tunes were celebrated once again and new tunes were composed.  Organs gradually returned to churches too but many rural and city parishes couldn’t afford them so the church band and quire took its place. However, toward the middle of the nineteenth century, the influence of the Oxford Movement made the organ the standard musical accompaniment once again, together with robed choirs who usually sat in the chancel.  Guildhall Library has books in its collections which can tell us more about this fascinating period.

One of the musical traditions which was all but lost during the late nineteenth century was revived toward the end of the twentieth – that of West Gallery Music.  It had been popular from the early 1700s to the mid-nineteenth century beginning with the singing of metrical psalms but later augmented with anthems and carols.  This music was usually performed in the West Gallery of country churches – hence the name.  The singers were usually male with each “voice” or part being led by an instrumentalist.


A pre-West Gallery strand of music making in church was reflected in John Playford’s “Whole Book of Psalms” published in 1677 (Guildhall Library holds an 18th century copy).  Collectors like Playford were important in the re-discovery and dissemination of pre-Commonwealth tunes.  Playford records a tune called “Winchester” for Psalm 107 “Give Thanks Unto the Lord”.


The melody will be more familiar to us as “While Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night,” the words to which are thought to have been written by Nahum Tate (1652 –1715) of Tate & Brady Psalms.  This may suggest that the association of Tate’s words with “Winchester” was quite new in Playford’s time.  During the later West Gallery period, Winchester was just one of many tunes for this favourite carol.  Collectors of these tunes have apparently identified at least two hundred tunes for “While Shepherds Watched,” including Lyngham (associated with Cornwall), Otford, and Cranbrook – written in Kent.  The latter is now better known as “On Ilkla Moor bar tat” why not try it…”and glory shone around, and glory shone around, and glo-ry shone around…”

The West Gallery tunes were sung in Anglican and Non-Conformist churches in country villages and towns.  As we have seen, different parishes and congregations had their own traditions and the words and tunes local usage.  Some churches preferred to sing metrical psalms only, such as “All People that on Earth do Dwell” (Psalm 100), whilst others had a broader repertoire.  In church the choirs often sang words based on biblical texts or the Book of Common Prayer, but they also learned Christmas carols to be sung not in church, but in their homes and for ‘going the rounds’ on Christmas night.

Some post Commonwealth parishes supported the work of the singers and musicians by employing singing teachers or purchasing musical instruments to accompany the singing when players were too poor to afford their own.  Players and singers were sometimes paid money or supplied with food and drink.   The music was handed down through families, many of whom created their own music manuscripts.  These local players often played for secular occasions too.

The rousing harmonies of West Gallery tunes were not unanimously welcomed, some parishes felt that traditional psalm tunes were better suited to the solemnity of a church service. There remained a suspicion of a tradition in which ordinary villagers led the service and that their singing and playing was not confined to or controlled by the church.  Others genuinely felt that it was better for the whole congregation to sing together rather than listen to a quire and musicians.  The church bands and choirs were gradually replaced by organists.

Guildhall Library’s collections offer an insight into the history of Christmas music sacred and secular.  In his preface to “Some Ancient Christmas Carols” (1823) Davies Gilbert looks back at a dying tradition…

“shadows of these customs were, till very lately, preserved in the Protestant West of England.  The day of Christmas Eve was passed in an ordinary manner; but at seven or eight o’clock in the evening cakes were drawn hot from the oven; cyder or beer exhilarated the spirits in every house; and the singing of Carols was continued late into the night.  On Christmas Day these Carols took the place of Psalms in all the Churches, especially at afternoon service, the whole Congregation joining; and at the end it was usual for the Parish Clerk to declare, in a loud voice, his wishes for a merry Christmas and a happy new year to all the Parishioners.” (Preface iv)

My own introduction to the joyous sound of West Gallery Music came through the work of Thomas Hardy whose father played in the West Gallery of the church at Stinsford, a village near Dorchester in West Dorset.  The County Museum houses the Hardy family’s music books with religious tunes at one end and secular ones at the other.  Hardy’s family memories inspired  some of his poems but above all his novel “Under the Greenwood Tree” which he subtitled “The Mellstock Quire, a Rural Painting of the Dutch school” (Guildhall Library reference B:H 272).  In that novel Hardy gives a fictional account of the quire ‘going the rounds’ on Christmas Eve and leading the singing in church on Christmas morning.  There is a poignant sense of loss at its eventual demise in favour of a single musician – the church organist.


When Davies Gilbert (1767-1839) published his collection of “Some Ancient Christmas Carols: with the Tunes to which they were Formerly Sung in the West of England. Together with Two Ancient Ballads, a Dialogue, &c” he was offering these songs to the reading public at a time when they were increasingly undervalued.
(Guildhall reference S 728:28 )

The collection includes this now lesser known carol “Hark! Hark! What News the Angels Bring”


And the better known “Christians Awake”


Gilbert also records the carol “A Virgin Most Pure” which is sometimes called “A Virgin Unspotted” (see Sandy’s “Christmastide: Its History, Festivities and Carols”) and gives the tune.  Sandys records it as a West Country tune but it has been popular in several English counties.    It seems that this carol had a secular origin.  Broadwood & Fuller Maitland in their “English Country Songs” (1893) tell us that the tune used was one called “Admiral Benbow” sung at Marden, near Hereford.  Sandys also records the words to “Remember Adam’s Fall” in his “Christmastide” which is sung by the Mellstock Quire in Hardy’s “Under the Greenwood Tree”.


Gilbert “Some Ancient Christmas Carols”


William Sandys (1792-1874) gave the words of forty two Christmas songs and the music for twelve. He too was saddened that carol singing was dying out. He recorded “A Virgin Most Pure”, “Remember Adam’s Fall” as well as a carol which possibly dates back to the fourteenth century entitled “Joseph was an Old Man” also known as the “Cherry Tree Carol”

In his Diary entry for the 23rd January 1873 the Reverend Francis Kilvert recorded going to hear a man recite this carol…

“This morning I found John Cozens at work on the lawn covering down one of the old flower beds, the one near the Deodar, between it and the limes. He fulfilled his promise of reciting to me the old Christmas Carol which the Wassailers and he as chief singer used to sing with the Wassailing song at Christmas. John leaned on his spade and I took this carol down word for word from his mouth.


Joseph was an old man,
An old man was he,
When first he courted Mary
What a virgin was she…”

“Selections from the Diary of the Rev. Francis Kilvert” volume two, pages 312-314. Reference BK: 48.

Kilvert records twelve verses of the carol. Laurie Lee also records singing this carol in “Cider with Rosie”.


Thankfully West Gallery tunes are now easier for a modern day audience to experience owing to the dedication of singers, musicians and scholars who have performed and recorded them in recent years. In the Sheffield area the music has survived by moving it to the pub and during December people still sing the old carols with gusto over a pint.

In London we are fortunate to have the London West Gallery Quire so we do not have to head for the West Country or Yorkshire to hear these wonderful tunes.  There is a West Gallery Music Association where you can find articles about the music and details of concerts.  So let’s not be limited in our choice of Christmas music this year and celebrate our long and varied tradition of sacred and secular carols.

Jeanie Smith

Assistant Librarian & Keeper of the Lloyd’s Marine Collection

The newsletter of the Friends of City Churches available in the library also lists carol services and concerts in the City.

Find out more about secular and sacred Christmas music in Guildhall Library’s collections:

Christmastide : its History, Festivities, and Carols [1852]

William Sandys

Reference S 394:2663


English Country Songs: Words and Music (1893)

Collected and Edited by Lucy E Broadwood & J A Fuller Maitland

Reference 782:4216221


Everyman’s Book of English Country Songs (1979)

Edited by Roy Palmer

Reference 782:4216221


Festive Songs, Principally of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries with an Introduction by William Sandys (1848)

Reference ST 271 (PERCY S; 77)


The Folk-Carol of England (1967)

Douglas Brice

Reference 782:28


Go West…

Christopher Turner

The Musical Times, Vol. 136, No. 1829 (Jul., 1995), pp. 380-383

Available via Jstor in the library


The Old Church Gallery Minstrels: An Account of the Church Bands and Singers in England from about 1660 to 1860

Canon K H MacDermott

Reference 783:8


Some Ancient Christmas Carols : with the Tunes to which they were Formerly Sung in the West of England. Together with two Ancient Ballads, a Dialogue, &c (1823)

Collected by Davies Gilbert.

Reference S 728:28


Specimens of Old Christmas Carols : Selected from Manuscripts and Printed Books.

Thomas Wright (1810-1877)

Reference ST 271 (PERCY S; 16)


Under the Greenwood Tree

Thomas Hardy

Reference BH: 272


The Whole Book of Psalms (1757)

John Playford ; Joseph Fox

Reference AN 11.2.17