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Apothecaries' Hall

A courtyard building with some of the best-preserved 17C livery hall interiors, on the site of the Blackfriars Priory on which the original hall burnt down in 1666.

Architect

Locke, Thomas

Date

1672

Black Friars Lane EC4V 6EJ

Sun 10am-3pm. Last entry 2.45pm. Max 100 at one time.

Blackfriars

4, 11, 15, 23, 26, 45, 63, 76, 172

  • Access for wheelchair users
  • Long queues likely
  • Toilets available

APOTHECARIES’ HALL Apothecaries_ Hall is the oldest Livery Company hall of thirty-four surviving in the City. Following incorporation by Royal Charter from James I in 1617, the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries bought Cobham House (which incorporated the guesthouse of the Dominican Friary) on this site in 1632. It is a courtyard building rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1666 and developed since then with additions and alterations. The north and west ranges, designed by Thomas Lock (1669-73), have particularly well-preserved 17th century interiors.A major restoration and building programme was carried out in the 1780s, in part because of the huge expansion in pharmaceutical trade operations at the Hall, resulting in the new warehouse-like west and south ranges to the courtyard designed by Richard Norris and additional premises behind the original, eastern block. An ‘Elaboratory’ was included for the first ever large-scale manufacture of drugs.This was located at ground level along the eastern side of the courtyard, underneath the Great Hall. The Society_s client base included the Navy, the Army, the East India Company and the Crown Colonies.Formerly bounded by large iron gates on the western side, entry to the Hall was at that time from the street through a central archway. The bow-fronted No 6 at the south-east corner of the South Front was originally the 18th century magnesia warehouse.The Apothecaries’ retail pharmacy, which had been located on the northern side of the COURTYARD, gained a separate entrance on Water Lane (now Black Friars Lane) in 1823. Its steps and wrought-iron railings are still evident. The COLONNADE in the courtyard where the main door, surmounted by the Society’s Arms, is now located was enclosed in 1929. The ENTRANCE HALL features the main STAIRCASE of three flights, constructed in 1670.On the first floor the PARLOUR displays the Society’s apothecaries’ drug jars and pill tiles. The COURT ROOM is completely panelled in oak in a style similar to that in the Great Hall. The room is dominated by two large stained glass windows, one depicting the Society’s Coat of Arms, the other the Stuart Royal Arms. Amongst the portraits is that of Gideon de Laune, Royal Apothecary to Anne of Denmark and founder of the Society. The Irish oak panelling by Robert Burges and Roger Davies in the GREAT HALL dates from 1671.There is a carved screen with coupled fluted Corinthian columns at the south end of the room and a instrels’ gallery with an elegant wrought-iron balustrade at the north end. The windows on the east and west sides of the Hall contain stained glass Coats of Arms of Past Masters and former Officers of the Society, and portraits hang on the walls.Factsheet collated by R.P. from information provided by the Society and The Buildings of England: The City of London, Bradley and Pevsner (1997)