Comprising over 2,000 diverse objects from across the Company’s long history, the Collection is a testament to both the Company’s past and present. Housed within our greatest asset, Fishmongers’ Hall, these objects show the varied story of the Company across the centuries, and reflect the modern-day institution as we strive to ‘collect the now’ as much as we care for our past.
The Company’s funeral pall dates from the early 16th century and is a rare survivng example of Opus Anglicanum (literally English Work); a form of detailed ecclesiastical embroidery using gold and silver-gilt threads.
This ornate silver and parcel-gilt tri-salt was crafted by renowned Dutch silversmith Johannes Lutma in 1648, and gifted to the Company by member John Rushout in 1654. Following the devastation of Great Fire of London in 1666, it was sold alongside the rest of the Company’s silver to fund the rebuilding of the Hall. However, in 1669, the then-Prime Warden Ralph Trattle purchased the salt at auction at a cost to himself of £47 and returned it to the Company’s possession. It now stands in front the Prime Warden as a centrepiece at Livery dinners and formal events.
Billingsgate Market was formally established in 1699, and by the 19th century it was the largest fish market in the world. Prior to this, Billingsgate Wharf had been the home of fishmongers and a focal point of Company business since medieval times. The artist of this painting, George Elgar Hicks, is famous for his series of genre paintings depicting specific and nuanced aspects of 19th century London. As well as this painting of Billingsgate Market, his body of work also includes Dividend Day at the Bank of England and The General Post Office at one minute to six.
Staffed by a tireless group of Red Cross Nurses and consultant surgeons from St Bartholemew’s, The Royal Red Cross Hospital for Officers at Fishmongers’ Hall opened in October 1914, and would save the lives of 1,135 patients by the time it finally closed its doors in February 1919.
The Salusbury Dish is the oldest piece of silver in the Collection, dating from 1626. Originally a gift from Sir Paul Pindar (Ambassador of King James I to the Ottoman Empire), the past Prime Warden Sir Robert Salusbury presented it to the Company in 1726.
One of the more recent additions to the Collection, the light sculpture Shoal743 was commissioned in 2015 and now proudly hangs in the entrance of Fishmongers’ Hall. Consisting of 743 bone china fish plated in 24ct gold, the shoal represents the number of years between the Company’s inception by Royal Charter and 1272 and the date of installation.