London’s Closed Rooms


This is where I’d Like To Have Dinner. Just once, to say I did.

It’s the Guildhall, London, which has been the corporate home of the City of London for eight hundred years. Surrounded by statues of Nelson, Wellington, Chatham, Pitt, Churchill, and Gog and Magog (the 1953 versions), the legendary giants who founded London in the iron Age, it still hosts dinners in its Great Hall.

London seems to have hundreds of these grand closed rooms, mostly used these days for government dinners and corporate events. I’m researching it because it features in the opening chapters of ‘Bryant & May and the Invisible Code’, out later next year. I do think they should open all such venues just for a week one year so that the general public can dine inside them.

There are dozens of guilds in London, from the Tallowmakers to the Coopers, Feltmakers and Apothecaries (I went to the Royal Leatherseller’s school). More and more grand venues are slowly opening their doors, but many remain buildings tantalisingly out of reach. Every time I have to go to an event it’s at Grosvenor House, the most depressing venue in London.

4 comments on “London’s Closed Rooms”

  1. Gretta says:

    That hall looks stunning. I wouldn’t mind having dinner there, either.

    After reading, err Seventy-seven Clocks was it?(sorry, admin!), I did my own research on the Guilds and whatnot, and found it all utterly fascinating. I confess that the fact that The Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards even exists warms my heart no end.

  2. Martha says:

    When I lived in London I worked for awhile in the Motor Manufacturers Trades Association which was / is(?) housed in a Georgian building on Halkin Street. Two or three times a month the formal dining room was rented out for private parties. A beautiful venue for a small intimate event.

  3. Helen Martin says:

    Do you move in the wrong circles, Admin? Still, you were there when the hotel at Kings Cross was re-opened and there was that charming book event which took place on a nasty wet night in – don’t remember the building, but it had a lovely Georgian porch. Would you really want to be at the Lord Mayor’s dinner? Well, yes, of course, once at least. Every city has closed rooms, although I’ve always referred to them as private or members only, but is that so terrible?

  4. madmary says:

    I think I went to the Lord Mayor’s Christmas party for children there when I was a little girl. I recall my granny dressing me up in a pink princess outfit and making me hold hands with a boy dressed as a cowboy. I could be wrong but that room looks like I remember.


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