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M.I.Batten, 'The Architecture of Dr. Robert Hooke F.R.S.', Walpole Society (London) 25, 90-91 (1936-37).

One of the few remaining works by Hooke is to be seen 1 in the Merchant Taylors' Hall. This is the carved wooden screen that stretches across one end of the Hall, and apart from slight alterations to the doors it is as Hooke left it. In the Diary on August 15th, 1673, is the entry 'at Merchant Taylors Hall, Designe of Screen and pavement accepted'. This is confirmed in the Minutes of the Merchant Taylors Company for that year. A further entry in the minutes states that 'Whiting joyner . . shall have £200 for all joyners, Carvers and Carpenters work for the Skreene in the Hall according to a Designe this day presented by Mr. Hooke'.

     The Hall at the Merchant Taylors had escaped the Fire, but the buildings adjoining it had been destroyed, as also the School in Suffolk Lane. Hooke has a number of entries relating to both, for example: 1676, April 25th, 'Drew designe for Merchant Taylors' According to the Minutes of the Company, in April 1676 Hooke and Oliver (City

1 Sadly, no longer; the Hall was bombed and the screen destroyed in WW2.

Surveyor) were asked for a design, Avis 2 (carpenter) and Lem 3 (bricklayer) being asked for another, for the rebuilding of the King's Chamber and Parlour adjoining the Hall. The matter then lapsed for some time, presumably for lack of funds, but in 1680 Lem and Avis are commissioned to build and two years later they receive their final payment. The building done by them includes the fine seventeenth-century staircase still extant 1

Hooke has several entries relating to the School, for example, 1674, January 28th, ‘At Merchant Taylors Scole Ordered to draw up platt', and the following day ‘Contrived with Lem Designe of Merchant Taylors School'. In spite of these and many other entries in the Diary Hooke's name never appears in the Company's Books except in reference to the screen and when he is asked to prepare a design for the building adjoining the Hall. Lem had been at work at the School as early as 1671 and from the minutes it would appear that Lem was mainly responsible. It is, however, possible that Hooke was called in unofficially and paid by Sir William Turner to advise on Lem's plans.

2 Avis or Annis, described in Wren Soc. volumes as joiner (e.g. vol. x p.124).

3 Lem or Lenn

The Screen in the Hall of the Company of Merchant Taylors, Threadneedle Street, London.
(Destroyed during WW2)


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