History

Follow the Company’s timeline and view some of the landmarks events in our history.

Simply click and drag the images to scroll through the interactive timeline or alternatively select a particular century along the bottom.

 

Timeline of the Company

1300

The first reference to gold and silver standards, the 'guardians of the craft' and the leopard's head in a statute of Edward I

1327

The Goldsmiths' Company's first royal charter from Edward III marks the beginning of the Company's formal existence as a craft guild, with St. Dunstan as its patron saint

1339

Purchase of a merchant's house in Foster Lane to the north of the goldsmithing area in Cheapside which is still the site of Goldsmiths' Hall today

1363

Goldsmiths and silversmiths required to have a mark unique to them to be struck on all their wares to identify the maker

1393

A second royal charter, from Richard II, allowing the Company to own property and rents to the value of £20 yearly for specific charitable purposes

1478

The Assay Office in Goldsmiths' Hall established with a paid official. A date letter was introduced to the marking system and workers were required for the first time to bring their wares to Goldsmiths' Hall to receive the hallmark

1544

The lion passant mark introduced on gold and silver possibly related to the placement in the Assay Office of two appointees of Henry VIII

1564

The first educational grants from the Company's charities for exhibitions at Oxford and Cambridge

1571

Grant of coat-of-arms from Robert Cooke, Clarenceux King of Arms

1588

The Goldsmiths' Company appointed as one of the Keepers of the Troy Weight, the measurement of weight used for gold and silver. The nest of standard weights has remained in the Hall ever since

1603

The start of written records of the Trial of the Pyx, which had been carried out by goldsmiths since the 13th century

1609

London Livery Companies forced by James 1 to purchase land in Ireland. The Goldsmiths' Company together with the Cordwainers, the Painter-Stainers and the Armourers acquired land jointly to the south-east of Londonderry. The Company sold its share to the Earl of Shelburne in 1728

1634-36

The second Hall erected on the site of the original merchant's house, incorporating ten shops. The Palladian red-bricked building was the work of Nicholas Stone, the King's Mason, with advice from Inigo Jones, the King's Surveyor

1657

John Perryn's estate in Acton, West London, left to the Company. Eventually 20 almshouses would be built on the estate

1666

The new Hall gutted by the Great Fire leaving only the walls standing. The Company's treasures and records were saved by Sir Charles Doe, an Assistant, who commandeered a cart and took them to safety to a house in Edmonton

1669

Restoration of the Hall completed by Edward Jerman

1681

Part of the southwest corner of the building destroyed by a major fire in the Assay Office

1697

A higher standard of silver, the Britannia standard, made compulsory for silver wares in order to protect the new milled coinage from being melted down by silversmiths for their raw working material

1720

The sterling standard for silver restored, coexisting with the higher Britannia standard

1740-41

A large collection of domestic and buffet (display) plate purchased by the Company from the four main silversmiths of the day: Paul de Lamerie, Thomas Farren, Humphrey Payne and Richard Bailey, and still displayed in the Livery Hall today. The total weight exceeded 2,300 ounces and replaced plate sold over the previous century to meet the Company's financial requirements

1773

Two new Assay Offices opened at Birmingham and Sheffield

1784

Duty imposed on gold and silver wares and a new mark, the sovereign's head, introduced to denote payment of duty

1798

A lower standard of gold, 18ct, introduced coexisting with 22ct gold

1812

Twenty almshouses erected on the Perryn estate in Acton. At this time the Company decided to rebuild the Hall and began to set aside corporate funds for that purpose

1829

The old Hall demolished and work started on the third Hall designed by the Company's architect, Philip Hardwick

1832

New schoolhouse built by the Company in Stockport for the school which was founded by Sir Edmund Shaa, a benefactor of the Company, in the fifteenth century

1835

The new Hall opened, the third Goldsmiths' Hall on this site since its purchase in 1339

1851

The Company offered prizes totalling £1000 at the Great Exhibition of 1851 for manufacturers of plate

1870

As laid down in the Coinage Act of that year, Goldsmiths' Hall became the established venue for the Trial of the Pyx

1871

A scheme to encourage design in gold or silver started as an annual competition with prizes awarded. Scholarships available to those who had been successful over several years

1878

The Goldsmiths' Company, together with other City Livery Companies, a prime mover in the establishment of the City and Guilds of London Institute which is today one of the main examining bodies for vocational qualifications

1880

Two reports issued by the Royal Commission set up to enquire into the conduct of the City of London Livery Companies, one in favour of abolition of the companies, the other proposing continuation. This Commission undoubtedly galvanised many of the Companies into adopting more proactive initiatives, particularly in the field of education

1891

The New Cross Technical and Recreative Institute opened by the Goldsmiths' Company and run with the help of a Warden. In 1904 it was handed over, lock stock and barrel, to the London County Council to run and became known, as it is today, as Goldsmiths' College

1903

The collection of economic literature owned by Professor Foxwell purchased by the Company and given to the University of London Library

1908

The Goldsmiths', Silversmiths' and Jewellers' Art Council of London established by George Booth Heming as an annual competition for craftsmen and schools in London. The Goldsmiths' Company has been a prominent supporter along with the trade itself and the competition continues to this day under the title of The Goldsmiths' Craft and Design Council. In the same year, Readerships are endowed by the Company in metallurgy at Cambridge and in English at Oxford

1919

A chair in bacteriology established by the Company at the London Hospital Medical School

1926

Design competitions for Ascot trophies begin a long and continuous involvement in modern design for silver wares through competitions, exhibitions and lectures

1941

The South West corner of the Hall badly damaged by incendiary bomb in April. Trial of the Pyx continues but Assay Office temporarily moved to Reigate

1946

A Design and Research Centre established with financial help from the Company and government grants

1951

A series of major exhibitions of historic and contemporary silverwork staged at the Hall during the decade

1958

A scheme for travelling grants for teachers introduced

1959

The Stone Committee on hallmarking recommended, inter alia, the closure of two of the six existing offices (Chester and Glasgow) and the repeal of previous legislation in order to make the law clearer and more easily enforced

1961

The International Exhibition of Modern Jewellery 1890-1961 held at the Hall, marking the Company's first interest in jewellery, leading subsequently to its collection of contemporary work

1966

The establishment of the Technical Advisory Committee in July to provide technical assistance to the trade

1975

The 1973 Hallmarking Act enacted on 1 January. All four Assay Offices adopted the same date letter sequence for the first time. Platinum marking introduced.

1976

The first Loot exhibition held, precursor to today's Goldsmiths' Fair

1977

Celebration of 750 years since the Company's first charter and a commemorative mark for the Queen's Silver Jubilee approved for use on silver wares

1978

An exhibition of the history of the Assay Office and its five hundred years in Goldsmiths' Hall

1986

A Chair in Education Management created by the Company at Goldsmiths' College

1987

A major exhibition of the French art nouveau jeweller Rene Lalique at the Hall

1988

The Millenium of the birth of Saint Dunstan, patron saint of Goldsmiths. The Annual Church Service to mark the handover by the Prime Warden takes place on his patronal festival, 19 May

1989-90

Major refurbishment of the Hall undertaken

1999

Changes to the usage of hallmarks: the sponsor's mark, the standard mark and the town mark being compulsory, the date letter and other standard marks such as the lion passant voluntary. New standards of gold, silver and platinum introduced

2000

A commemorative millennium mark approved. The staging of a major exhibition of the Company's collection of 20th century silver, jewellery and art medals

2002

Queen's Golden Jubilee commemorative mark approved

2005

City and Guilds Licentiateship Scheme for apprentices introduced

2006

First off-site hallmarking facility in modern times established by the Company in Greville Street, Hatton Garden

2006

Mrs (now Dame) Lynne Brindley elected as the first female member of the Court of Assistants

2007

25th anniversary Goldsmiths' Fair, which now runs for two weeks

2009

The Goldsmiths’ Centre, our largest ever direct investment in the craft and industry, given the go ahead

2010

Palladium marking introduced

2012

The Goldsmiths’ Centre opened in 2012 providing training and education, workshop space and a venue for exhibitions and events. It marks the beginning of a new era and is also the product of a 700-year tradition. This £17.5 million project represents the Goldsmiths' Company's largest ever direct investment in the craft and industry with a particular focus on the trade, education and industry development.