The Guildhall has been at the heart of London city government since the Middle Ages, and continues to be the ceremonial and administrative centre of the City of London and its Corporation today.
During the Tudor period it was also the setting for several state trials: Francis Dereham and Thomas Culpeper in 1541, charged with treason for their alleged affairs with Queen Katherine Howard; Anne Askew (1546); Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1547); Lady Jane Grey, Lord Guildford Dudley and Archbishop Thomas Cranmer (1553). It was at the Guildhall, too, in 1554, that Mary I made a rousing speech to the Lord Mayor and people of London as Wyatt’s troops were marching on the city.
Its Great Hall, built between 1411 and 1440, is the largest in England after Westminster Hall, and has survived both the Great Fire of 1666 and the bombs of the Second World War. The latter, however, did cause substantial damage and its current impressive timber roof, designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, was installed in 1953. Beneath the Great Hall is the largest medieval crypt in London, some of which is thought to date from the 11th century.
Parts of the Guildhall, including the crypt, are open to the public and the Great Hall can be visited with an organised tour.
See also: Tower Hill Execution Site
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