Just as London’s Guildhall loses one small museum, it gains another small gallery. A heritage gallery that will show off a few key objects from the City of London’s archive.

The new Heritage Gallery, in the Guildhall Art Gallery has opened with a display of the City of London’s own 1297 Magna Carta, said to be the finest surviving 13th century edition in existence, and the only one that mentions London.

That will be on display until the end of January, along with:

  • Cartae Antiquae. This volume contains transcripts of charters and statutes covering laws enacted between the reigns of Edward III (from 1327) to the accession of Henry VII (1485). The volume will be open to show the portrait of Richard III whose remains were discovered in Leicester in 2013.
  • Portraits of City of London Aldermen, dating from c.1447.
  • Poster for a Recruitment Meeting held at Guildhall on 4 September 1914.
  • London County Council, Emergency Committee Minutes for 1914 reporting on the effects of the outbreak of war on families, businesses and communities.

As a gallery it’s quite small, being just a little room that sits downstairs next to the cloakroom and toilets — which despite the municipal positioning does put it in a very busy location!

 Heritage Gallery Artists Impression courtesy of London Metropolitan Archives

Heritage Gallery Artists Impression courtesy of London Metropolitan Archives

Looking ahead, the Heritage Gallery will feature further gems, including Shakespeare’s purchase deed for a house in Blackfriars (1613) which carries his signature – one of only six known examples in the world.

The other change that’s worth noting is that the wall opposite the gallery has been replaced with glass, letting you look down into the basement containing the remains of the Roman amphitheatre — with its distressingly 1980s style Tron displays.

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