Saturday 11 January 2014

Guildhall Art Gallery & The Cheapside Hoard

For this week's Nice Day Out I went to the City of London (this is an area of London, not just a fancy way to refer to London itself). I love the juxtaposition of the old and new in the City!


I had a wander round, looking at lovely old buildings like the Royal Exchange...

... and the Bank of England. Sadly the Bank of England Museum is currently closed, but the building itself is well worth seeing - such fantastic doors! (2 lions guarding a pile of gold coins? Awesome!)


Then I walked to Guildhall Yard...


... a gorgeous, quiet square. The Guildhall is very impressive!


I looked round Guildhall Art Gallery, which had an interesting temporary exhibition of portraits and some lovely Victorian pictures. You can also see part of the Roman ampitheatre that was discovered beneath the building when they were adding a new basement gallery - the original shape of the ampitheatre is marked out across the yard by a curved black line (if you look at the pictures of the yard, above, you can see it in the 2nd photo). 

It was also a wonderful, quiet space to wander round - at times during my visit I was the only person in each gallery space!


After visiting the gallery, I walked round the corner to the Guildhall Library where there's a small Clockmaker's Museum. This little museum tells the story of clockmaking from the perspective of The Worshipful Company of Clockmakers (est. 1631) and showcases the Company's interesting collection of clocks.


Then I headed to the Museum of London...


... for lunch, and to see the Cheapside Hoard exhibition.

The Cheapside Hoard is a collection of 16th & 17th Century jewellery & gemstones that was discovered buried in a London cellar in 1912. I had never heard of it before reading about this exhibition, but it looked interesting and I could get a discount off the ticket price with my Art Pass so I thought I'd have a look... and WOW. This exhibition is amazing! I spent an age looking round it and taking lots of notes, and I am almost tempted to go back and see it for a second time!

The first room introduces you to jewellery-making and -selling in Elizabethan and Jacobean London, with displays of things like old shop signs, tools, jewellery boxes, etc and a recreation of a goldsmith's workshop.

Then the jewellery itself is gorgeous and displayed really well, with great info panels that tell you about the pieces themselves but also lots of interesting things like the various ailments that Elizabethans thought certain gemstones could cure.

Around the walls are several awesome portaits from the period showing people wearing jewellery very similar to the pieces from the Hoard (I adore the portraits of this era, so I loved seeing these - they were all quite fabulous) plus extra context-giving displays like some clothing from the period and (completely delightfully) a perfume created for the exhibition based on the typical contents of perfumers stores at the time (you open up a little door in the wall and sniff the perfume through a grate - it smelled rather delicious!).

Top tip: when you visit this exhibition you have to leave your coats and bags in lockers for security reasons, so if you go along, remember to take a £1 coin for your locker.

After the exhibition I had a cuppa and then spent a while exploring some of the permanent galleries in the Museum. These are arranged chronologically - I got as far as the Great Fire of London until it was time to head home. I'm really looking forward to visiting the Museum again soon so I can check out the rest of the galleries and explore some of London's more recent history.


Katie said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the hoard, it thought it was fabulous too. I love walking around The City, it makes me feel tiny being surrounded by all the imposing buildings.

Bugs and Fishes said...

Such a great exhibition! I love that feeling too - and there's sooo much history crammed into each street :)

VPlum said...

When you were at the Guildhall you were right opposite my office. I LOVE the city! Next time, head over to One New Change (the shopping centre), go up to the roof and look at the view. It's not as great as the shard, but it's nice to see St. Paul's so close.

bairozan said...

I'll make a note about the hoard - maybe one day, when I come to London... It was a pleasure to "visit" it with you, as always!

Bugs and Fishes said...

EssexCommuter - this is a great tip, thanks so much! xx

bairozan - the Cheapside Hoard exhibition is only on until the end of April, but I'm sure there will be lots of other great exhibitions on after that :)