Looking for a venue for your next corporate event in the Square Mile? The City's historic livery halls can host your office gatherings, conferences and work parties in style.
Last year, weddings were cancelled. Work events went virtual. Runway shows were pushed back a season. And just about any other big event was postponed ‘until further notice’. But now, thanks to a successful vaccine rollout, these City of London events can finally go ahead again.
And we can think of few locations in the Square Mile which compare to the all too luxurious livery halls. These buildings are steeped in history and exude refined glamour and opulence. They are the crème de la crème of the City’s venue menu.
People already come from all over to get a guided tour of the elaborate spaces, hear secret stories of their past, see exhibitions they host, and hope to get a seat at the royal engagements they throw on the odd occasion.
But with over 40 different livery halls to choose from, settling on the right one is tough. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to the very best ones in the City of London. Read on to find the one which is best for planning a wedding, fashion show, conference, fundraiser, or more traditional black-tie dinner.
Stationers’ Hall has a little bit of Hollywood about it. Due to its proximity to St Paul’s Cathedral – the hall is based in Ave Maria Lane – the hall is often frequented by production companies seeking space for green screen shots. If Hollywood directors are so obsessed with this hall, we bet you will be too. Completed in 1673, the suite of three impressive and interlinking rooms, combined with a large secluded garden, makes this hall well equipped for a wide range of events.
The Court Room is a wonderfully bright space, richly carpeted and, with Rococo ornamentation in gold adorning the walls, has an air of sumptuous extravagance. Moreover, the garden is the most stunning feature, comfortably holding 200 guests. This makes the hall a popular destination for wedding receptions, for the bride, groom and guests can seamlessly flow from the church to the hall’s stunning garden via a private interconnecting path.
Ave Maria Lane EC4M 7DD
This is one of the most exciting livery halls to visit right now, thanks to a multi-million-pound refurbishment. It is located in the heart of the Square development near Smithfield Market, meaning it not only has some impressive interiors but stunning surrounds too. Diners will be treated to all the best food and drink – especially steaks. What else would you expect from the butchers Choose to hire either of the two floors or the ever-exciting new rooftop roof garden which boasts views across the Square Mile.
233 Shoreditch High Street E1 6PJ
Merchant Taylors’ Hall
After 650 years on the same site – surviving through the Great Fire of 1666 and the London Blitz of 1940 – the Merchant Taylors have picked up a few tricks to keep the good times going, and the bubbly forever flowing. The tranquil courtyard is a delight in fine weather and sets them apart from most other livery halls.
Even after the adversity of the last 650 years, the inside of 30 Threadneedle Street boasts high ceilings, tall windows, Chinese silk wallpaper, and chandeliers. With room for up to 280 diners, the only obstacle will be keeping your eyes on your plate and not the magnificent decor.
While on site they encourage guests to soak in the architecture surrounding them at every turn and in every one of the
rooms. The beautiful, historic building is nestled in the heart of the City of London, yet as guests step through the door, they will feel like they’ve been transported to a different world. The Great Hall dates to the 14th century and can cater for large numbers up to 280 people. Its high ceilings and windows give the room a fabulous sense of space and occasion.
Threadneedle Street EC2R 8JB
Saddlers’ Hall was built in a neo-classical style and impresses with bespoke period furniture, historical antiquities and paintings. Taking centre stage is the Great Hall, which comes complete with exquisite stained-glass windows and a musicians’ gallery; a sumptuous venue for everything from conferences to weddings, large drinks receptions, and delicious banquets.
An added perk is the multitude of breakout spaces, which provide extra conferencing facilities, while the secluded courtyard can be used for alfresco summer entertaining. As one of the very oldest of the City of London livery companies – records of a Guild of Saddlers in the Capital date from 1160 AD – the livery has had plenty of time to refine its offering.
40 Gutter Lane EC2V 6BR
Drapers’ Hall is a magnificent and accommodating location full of character, charm and rich history that will leave a lasting impression on guests. Given that the Drapers’ Company was the original authority on cloths and textiles, it was inevitable that an eye for design and quality would be cast over the Hall.
While the Company is no longer involved in the textile trade, it has evolved, acquiring a new relevance through its philanthropic role as trustee of the charities that have been left in its care over the centuries. The Drapers’ manage a thriving hospitality business in their Hall with their exquisite in-house catering and service provided by the experienced and dedicated team, ensuring that your event is perfect in every way.
And while this space is steeped in history, the Hall is instantly recognisable from modern films such as The King’s Speech and Goldeneye. These spaces remain relevant. And they continue to be held in high esteem when people look for traditional opulence – especially on a grand scale.
Drapers’ Hall can seat 276 dining guests and comfortably cater for 700 guests for a standing reception when using all rooms, making it one of the biggest venues in the City for a luxury reception, conference, fashion shoot or wedding reception. It even has the luxury of being able to fling open its doors, allowing guests to roam a quaint garden that too can be decked out just in time for those fast-approaching summer soirees.
And this is all spread out over several separate spaces. First off, there is the peaceful and elegant Drawing Room. This space is mostly used to welcome guests for a champagne reception, but also serves as an incredibly memorable and effective presentation room.
Then there is the Court Dining Room which is dramatically decorated and is often used together with the Drawing Room – for large receptions or on its own for more intimate lunches and dinners. The Court Room lends itself to an array of events, whether as a syndicate area, a space for sponsor stands or as an informal luncheon or break out room.
And, of course, you then have the one and only Livery Hall. Set beneath the dramatic ceiling paintings, depicting Shakespearean scenes by 19th Century artist Herber Draper, the Livery Hall is undoubtedly one of the City of London’s finest event spaces.
But it doesn’t end there. This event space also has a large garden and courtyard which is made for outdoor gatherings in summer. It is a hidden oasis in the Square Mile. The idyllic and picturesque setting is perfect for entertaining guests on warm evenings, comfortably holding up to 180 guests for a drinks reception.
So, be it below ornate detailed finishes on the ceiling, or clear blue skies in the garden, Drapers’ Hall is a force to be reckoned with on more than one front when selecting the perfect venue for your next celebration.
Throgmorton Avenue EC2N 2DQ
The Armourers & Brasiers’ Company boasts a gleaming hall befitting of the wares this livery is famed for. Recently refurbished, the hall has some of the most magnificent and elegant rooms available for hire in London, each one packed with historical interest, providing a perfect backdrop to staff party conversation.
The skill of the Armourers is plain to see upon arrival and a consistent theme throughout the Coleman Street venue; the striking interior featuring 16th and 17th-century weapons and paintings alongside full suits of armour that once belonged to medieval warriors. But don’t get any bright ideas of drawing a long sword down from above the fireplace and skewering your boss because she didn’t give you that pay rise.
81 Coleman Street EC2R 5BJ
The Apothecaries – better known these days as members of the medical profession – run the Grocers close when it comes to location, with their HQ based just two minutes from Blackfriars station. Guests “take a step back in time” when visiting a hall built in 1672, with many original features standing the test of time. It is even believed to be the oldest surviving livery hall in the City.
And although the entire hall underwent major redevelopment 200 years later, its external appearance has altered little since the late-18th century. Apothecaries’ Hall secret courtyard has been refurbished recently, to a stunning white with blue façade. There are five event spaces which can be hired individually or as a package, and with such impressive surrounds, we’re confident guests won’t be pulling a sickie.
Choose from the Great Hall (for all your big and boastful events), the Court Room, Parlour, Library and Courtyard. No matter the size of your event, the Apothecaries’ Hall has got the space and menu sorted.
Black Friars Lane EC4V 6ER
Location, location, location; you won’t find a more central venue on this list. Situated less than 100 yards from Bank station, the home of the Grocers’ Company boasts all modern conveniences and centuries of history within its walls. In-house AV includes a PA system and speakers, hand-held microphone, portable lectern microphone, lectern, front projector with 5ft screen and staging.
And that’s before we get on to bespoke packages tailored to individual needs. These folks will be able to cater to just about any of your event needs. Two stunning reception rooms – supported by three break out rooms for those particularly busy events – can cater for up to 240 guests at a time, and are delightfully described by its operators as “a private oasis at the heart of one of the busiest cities in the world.”
Princes Street EC2R 8AD
The London Wall is home to one of the City’s oldest Livery Companies. Dating back to 1441, Barber-Surgeons’ Hall has kept its elegance and charm, providing a stunning backdrop for plenty events over the years. From Livery dinners to extravagant Christmas parties, guests are sure to have a delightful experience at the hall.
Sadly, the original Hall was destroyed in the Great Fire of London. The hall was then rebuilt and lost again, this time to air raids in 1940. The current Hall, opened in 1969 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, blends the historical connection with the comfort and practicality of a modern venue.
The beautifully laid out red-brick is the third incarnation of the original Hall on this site, standing alongside the remains of the Roman-built London Wall. Offering natural light, Japanese oak panelling and Barbers’ Company treasures in all indoor spaces. The reception rooms are wonderfully laid out, leading to the focal point of the hall, the Great Hall.
The Great Hall itself is flooded with natural light, bowed towards the west and dominated by a magnificent Holbein painting of Henry VIII uniting the Barbers’ and Surgeons’ Companies. It’s a magnificent room, made for extravagant events.
Monkwell Square EC2Y 5BL
Fittingly, the Fishmongers’ Hall is located right on the Thames, with the main rooms looking right out onto the river. The views over the water, paired with luxurious interiors and top-quality catering facilities, make this one of the top event locations in all of London – not just the City. The historical elements of the Fishmongers Hall cannot be overlooked either. First off, it is a Grade II*-listed building with a unique past.
This elegant Greek Revival building dates from 1834 and was designed by architect Henry Roberts. And while the building as a whole has so many outstanding qualities, each room comes with its own character and unique kind of opulence. At every turn, you see yet another part of the hall’s valuable and diverse collection of artefacts and paintings. No stone is left unturned.
Black Friars Lane EC4V 6ER