The Salters’ Hall was a Quester one choice for a visit. On 5th February a group of us set off by train to enable us to reach our venue by 1100 without any trouble, walking from Bank station to London Wall Place.

We were welcomed with refreshments and our guide for our visit was Salter, Toby Faber who will, in a few years’ time, become Master of the Salters’. Masters are the Chairman and his deputies Upper and Second Wardens. They in turn will become Master for a Year and currently the second warden is a woman and she will rise to be Master in two years’ time - The first female Master.

The Salters’ had its origins in the medieval salt trade when a group of traders came together to set standards for price and quality as well as looking after their own trading interests. A licence from Richard II in 1394 and charters from Elizabeth I and James I made the Salters official. But it could have been in existence well before 1066.

There was a good business in salt from Lymington’s salt pans.

There are 110 ancient and modern Livery Companies in the City of London. The Salters Company one of the great 12 livery companies. In 1515 an order of precedence was set and the Salters rank is 9. In the Lord Mayor’s show the carriage carrying the Master of the Salters’ livery company will be 9th. Today, all livery companies are charitable institutions and the Salters is particularly linked to Chemistry with an extensive educational programme here and abroad.

Salters’ Hall is a modern building as they have had to move several times. Twice after its premises were gutted by fire in the Great Fire of London and in the blitz. Today they are in an imposing tower much of which is rented out to produce an income for the company.

Our guided tour began with entering the formal area by way of a corridor giving the impression of a salt cave at the end of which was a black wall with a huge block of salt illuminated from behind which gave an orange glow. Silver salt holders lined a side wall. We were shown luxurious cloakrooms and banqueting hall and from a balcony we looked at the gardens and a portion of the London Wall. In the archives displayed for us was their foundation document.

The Salters’ garden, by the London Wall, is open to the public.

Anne Bristow

John Gardener’s (Secretary of Quester 1) comment:-
I'm still intrigued by this organisation that appears to be rolling in money, does a bit of charitable work, has no real function in the modern world and seems to host innumerable dinners and champagne evenings. Can we convert U3A into a livery company?