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Archives & Treasures Introduction

The importance of the wine trade in medieval England, and the subsequent wealth of the Vintners' Company, is reflected by Vintners' Hall itself and the treasures within it. Lavish gifts are continually given to the Company - enhancing the status of the giver and grandeur of the Company itself.

The medieval Vintners' Hall was much smaller and less richly furnished than the present building. As the rooms of the Hall were plain and largely unadorned, it was sometimes necessary for the Company to hire tapestries and carpets from the Tower of London on days of celebration. However, by the middle of the 17th century, Vintners' Hall was adorned with much more decoration than it possessed a hundred years before.


Items of plate and furniture (but not glass) are occasionally loaned for display at exhibitions of major importance. Photograph albums of the more important piece of the Company's plate are kept and can be inspected at the office by appointment.

The Archives of the Company are remarkably complete and most of those before 1970 are on deposit at Guildhall Library. The Charters date from 1363. Many of them are elaborately illuminated and there are examples of both the Cellini and Hilliard great seals of Queen Elizabeth I.

The Court Books date from 1608 and are complete except for the years 1659-69 and 1682-1703. These books contain a wealth of information about the Company's activities during the reigns of James I and Charles I and during the Civil War.

The Account Books are complete from 1522 and contain a large amount of information about the day to day running of the Company's estates and other activities. The deeds date from 1288. The oldest existing conveyance of the site was witnessed, among others, by John Chaucer, Geoffrey Chaucer's father. Attached to the confirmation of the Byelaws in 1594 is the seal and signature of William Cecil, Lord Burghley. There are also books relating to the administration of the Company's Irish Estates, the "tax farm" bought by members of the Company from Charles I, the Wine Porters and Stephen Skidmore's legacy and other charities.

Whilst the majority of papers date from the nineteenth century, there is a complete set of papers and letters for applying for a pardon from Charles II and a set of eighteenth century bankruptcy papers of one of the Company's tenants. There is also a copy of a petition to Cromwell and a page of Cellarer's Accounts for 1500.

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