This is a short alleyway that runs behind St-Bartholomew-the-Great Church, and in front of a very modern Livery Hall.
The passage is just to the south of Smithfield, originally known as Smoothfield, and a horse trade and meat market from as early as the twelfth century. The passageway seems to have emerged from developments around the meat market between 1670s and 1800s, as various small buildings arose and vanished.
What was left was a block of buildings that ran in a single row behind the church, forming Bartholomew Passage. While one side overlooks the ancient church, the other side of the passage is dramatically modern. This is Founders Hall, a distinctive late-C20 reinterpretation of a classic Livery hall, its architectural design fused neo-Vernacular historicism, Arts and Crafts influences with Post-Modern wit and extravagance.
The Worshipful Company of Founders, a livery company of the City of London for founders or workers of brass and bronze, is first recorded in 1365 and was incorporated under a Royal Charter in 1614. The history of the Worshipful Company of Founders is then reflected in the predominance of bespoke metal fittings and the incorporation of elements from the Company’s previous halls.
The design is also an echo of old Elizabethan buildings, with the windows staggered out above the Passage.
It’s considered to be an important work by Sam Lloyd, the third generation of the London-based architectural practice founded by his grandfather W Curtis Green in 1898.
Writing in 1988, Country Living Magazine stated that “Lloyd seems to have been delighted to throw off the shackles imposed by the doctrinaire modernists…His new Founders’ Hall is the result of this new freedom, and with its rejection of the Modern Movement, its use of traditional materials and its care for its surrounding, it is typical of the best architecture of today”
The building was given listed status in 2018.
To the south is a block of buildings completed after the Hall, in the same style, but are now residential flats.
In an area rich in old buildings, it’s nice to see a sympathetic, but still very distinctive modern building sitting here.