Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths
|Justitia Virtutum Regina|
|Date of formation:||1327|
|Company association:||Banking and commodity trading|
|Order of precedence:||5th|
|Motto:||Justitia Virtutum Regina|
The Company, which originates from the twelfth century, received a Royal Charter in 1327 and ranks fifth in the order of precedence of City Livery Companies. Its motto is Justitia Virtutum Regina, Latin for Justice is Queen of Virtues.
History and role
The Company was established as a medieval guild for the goldsmith trade, and over time became responsible for silversmiths and jewellers too. Only those clothed with the livery (liverymen) of the Company were licenced to trade such precious commodities within the bounds of the City. Whilst this arrangement maintained standards, it also became restrictive in an ever increasing global market.
The word hallmarking derives from the fact that precious metals were officially inspected and marked at Goldsmiths' Hall, the Company's HQ. Today, the Company is one of the few Livery Companies still to play a formal role in its ancient trade. Until the late 20th-century, the Company retained paramount responsibility for hallmarking platinum, gold and silver, but successive parliamentary legislation has devolved much authority to Government departments.
Nonetheless, the Goldsmiths' Company oversees the London Assay Office, where objects made of precious metals are tested for purity, and then marked with an official symbol should they pass the necessary tests. At the Trial of the Pyx, the Goldsmiths' Company is also responsible for checking the validity of British coinage.
Goldsmiths' Hall is located on the junction of Foster Lane and Gresham Street, north east of St. Paul's Cathedral. The Company has been based at this location since 1339, the present building being their third hall on the site.
Little is known about the first hall. The second hall was built circa 1634-36 and restored after the Great Fire of London in 1666; it was eventually demolished in the late 1820s.
The third and present hall was designed by Philip Hardwick. Those present at the opening dinner in 1835 included the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel. In 1941 a bomb exploded in its south-west corner but amazingly the building largely survived and was able to be restored after the Second World War.