A visit to Salter’s Hall
The medieval salter was a most important man in his society. Salt was an important preservative of food. It also helped in “any operation where ‘chemical’ action was required”.
The Salters’ Company received its first license under Richard II in 1394, although it may be much older.
The Salters’ Company is one of the great Twelve City of London Livery Companies. It is listed ninth in order of precedence of this esteemed group. This means that her people parade ninth behind the Lord Mayor during the Lord Mayor’s Show.
As an old and prestigious organisation, the Salters’ Company has an archive to match. This includes:
- Title deeds, plans and other property records from 1216
- Charters from 1607
- Records of the Company’s almshouses and other charitable activities from 1609
- Minutes of the Court of Assistants from 1627
- Membership records from 1636
- Accounts from 1659
- Records of various committees reporting to the Court from 1821
- Records of The Salters’ Institute (formerly known as the Salters’ Institute of Industrial Chemistry) from its foundation in 1918 to the 1990s
Part of their permission to expand their building in 2016 included expanding their education offering. The Salters’ Company hold a lot of educational events, related to chemistry. This includes an Ancient Egypt themed day for the young ‘uns. Salt was an important part of the mummification process.
The company are very proud of their new building. It was originally designed by Sir Basil Spence, who also designed Coventry Cathedral. It has recently been redone. We were offered a tour of the new building.
The totem of the salter is the snow leopard or pard. You can see them on the company’s coat of arms. Why, you may very well ask, are they black with yellow spots? The tour guide explained that snow leopards are a greyish colour and so it’s reasonable to depict them in this way. They have been on the coat of arms since the Tudor period.
Blocks of salt
The building also contains lots of salt. The ironmongers donated this lovely iron frame. Can you spot the salamander? The salamander is the totem of the mighty ironmonger men.