A visit to Cutlers Hall, 'The Worshipful Company of Cutlers', on a bitterly cold February day, proved an enlightening experience.  Situated just behind St Paul's Cathedral and Paternoster Square, we were met by the Beadle, David, and John, the assistant Beadle, and enjoyed coffee and biscuits in the magnificent hall before our tour started. 

A 'House of Cutlers' was mentioned in 1285, the original building bought in 1451. The new hall was built in 1666 but was burnt down three months later in the Great Fire. One article which survived the Great Fire was a wooden carving depicting an odd looking elephant with a castle on its back, a carving dated 1546, being the original meaning of Elephant & Castle and not as widely believed to relate to the Infanta de Castilla. The elephant is significant to Cutlers Hall and all portraits depicting the various Masters depict an elephant in the painting.  Rather a strange carving of an elephant but, as our guide said, most people in 1546 had never seen an elephant!!

Three of our group were promoted for the occasion, Christine and June became wardens and Carole became The Master for the day for the purposes of the tour and wore the appropriate robes.  Cutlers Hall backs onto The Old Bailey and from an upstairs window we were shown Hanging Yard, so called for obvious reasons.  Our tour finished at the magnificent Banqueting Hall with a toast of port to the Master (Carole).

Mo Askew


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