In early 2017, the seventh Leathersellers’ Hall officially opened at St Helen’s Place, London. Apart from the original early 20th century facade, retained from the last major redevelopment, the project was a new building designed by Eric Parry Architects. Conveying a theme of continuity and renewal, the design incorporates features from the previous six Halls and boasts an unusual yet luxurious combination of materials and finishes. The Luke Hughes team was commissioned to design and manufacture most of the new furniture, as well as to refurbish the company’s historic furniture. This project joins a growing number of City Livery companies who are clients including the Mercers, Haberdashers, Butchers, Fishmongers and Carpenters.
The Leathersellers’ Company began as an informal association of leather merchants and craftsmen and was incorporated in 1444. The first Hall was opened on London Wall in 1476 and the Company moved in 1543 to more prestigious premises on the estate of the former priory of St Helen’s in Bishopsgate, the site of its home right up to the present day, The Company currently devotes its time to charity, education and training; it also has an important role as an advocate for the British leather trade. The sixth building closed in 2011 following a decision to redevelop the site and accommodate the new seventh Hall.
The new Court Room is furnished with a demountable boardroom table manufactured in French walnut, and is made in seven sections that can be reduced in size (from 8.5 to 5.5 metres) or removed entirely from the room. Spare sections are accommodated on a purpose-made trolley. Two side tables in French walnut were designed to reflect the joinery of the room’s wall paneling.
A new extending table in solid European oak was designed for the intimate Library, which can be used for meetings and small-scale dining. The table extends from 2.6m to 3.2m.
The original mahogany dining table and chairs of the Livery Hall were reengineered and refurbished by the Luke Hughes team, adding a robust, discreet folding mechanism that enables the whole set to be rearranged, cleared away and stored. All the original chairs were refurbished, regilded and re-upholstered and an additional set of 30 reproduced to make up a complete set for the new Hall, which seats up to 120. Other items included the silver store storage units and furniture for the archivist.
On 16 May 2017 the new Leathersellers’ Hall was officially opened by HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, who toured the new building and unveiled ‘The Flesher’ commemorative statue.