Above: The modern hall which stands on the south side of Fore Street.
Man’s need for salt goes back centuries. It is estimated that salt was being obtained from salt-mines around 5000 BC. The Romans used salt and the Latin word ‘sal’ has given us the English word ‘salary’ – because people were once paid in salt due to its great value. Salt has also worked its way into English phrases like ‘Worth one’s salt’ (meaning to be worth one’s pay) and ‘Above the salt’ (meaning to be superior to others which derived from the salt cellar being on the dining table and the important people sitting one side of it while others were required to sit the other side of it). Those who supplied salt practised a craft that goes back to the earliest times in the history of London. Those who supplied salt were known as Salters and the guild in London was an early one.
The Salters’ Company, one of the Great 12 Livery Companies in the City of London have had a hall in the City for many centuries. First licensed in 1394, the Salters’ Company has its origins in the salt trade of medieval London and is ranked number nine in the order of precedence. Due to being an expensive commodity, it was also highly valued and so the company was always an important one.
The Salters’ Hall was originally on the north side of Cannon Street. The name of Salters’ Hall Court, a turning off the north side of Cannon Street, is a reminder of where the hall once stood. The hall on that site was destroyed during the Second World War and not rebuilt. From that time until the 1970s, the Company had no hall. The present Hall, on the south side of Fore Street, dates from 1976. It was designed by Basil Spence, best known for his work on Coventry Cathedral. The modern building was rather ‘shut away’ in Fore Street but, because of the new development called London Wall Place, it is now linked to the open space created on the north side of the street.
Above: Ornamental gates in front of the entrance to the Salters’ Hall.
When the hall was near Cannon Street, there were grand Victorian entry-gates to the property, made in 1887. They survived damage in the bombing and have been re-sited in front of the entrance to the present hall. They are well worth a look if you happen to be in the area.