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Fish on post at Fishmongers' Hall

This post is closely related to the previous one on Billingsgate fish market, because the Fishmongers’ Company has been responsible for the quality of produce on that market for centuries. The Company is one of the London guilds and has existed for at least 700 years. It used to be called the Stock Fishmongers’ Company, but it got its present name when it merged with the Salt Fishmongers’ Company in 1537.

In 1666, Fishmongers’ Hall was destroyed in the Great Fire, but because of its location so close to the river, the papers and valuables could easily be transported to safety. Although the Fire was an absolute disaster, it did give the Company the opportunity to rebuild the hall on a grander scale.

Fishmongers' Hall from Thornbury, vol. 2

Fishmongers’ Hall from W. Thornbury, Old and New London, vol. 2

In 1828, another external event, albeit this time not as catastrophic as the Fire, gave the Company the opportunity to build a new Hall once again. The post-Fire building was by then in need of urgent repairs and when part of the site was needed for New London Bridge, the Company enlisted an architect to design them a new Hall. The building, designed by Henry Roberts with the assistance of Gilbert Scott and built by Thomas Cubitt, was completed in 1835 and has an arcaded gallery at the water’s edge. The wharf is now part of the walkway (Thames Path) and freely accessible.

Fishmongers' Hall from The History of London

The front of Fishmongers’ Hall on Upper Thames Street. Steel engraving from The History of London, ed. W.G. Fearnside, engraved by J. Woods, 1838

Fishmongers' Hall

The lamps on Fishmongers’ Hall


Fishmongers' Hall detail

Detail of the lamp

In the staircase niche on the Thames side of the Hall stand statues of a fisherman and a fishergirl. The marble girl was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1901 and she was placed, with her male companion at Fishmongers’ Hall in 1902. The sculptor, Alfred Turner (1874-1940), had been given the commission in 1899 when the hall was being redecorated and he was paid 1200 guineas in total for the two statues. Alfred was the son of sculptor Charles Edward Halsey Turner and had entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1895. His most well-known works are the friezes at the Old Bailey and the horse with two men on top of the South Africa War Memorial at Delville Wood, France.(1)

Fishmongers' Hall statues by Alfred Turner

Statues by Alfred Turner

The Hall is not open to the public, but guided tours are possible, see here.

(1) Philip Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of the City of London (2003), p. 482; and Wikipedia.

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