London - in flames, on film, in literature, at night

A Regency dance, an exhibition about the Great Fire of London, and the chance to perform Shakespeare in front of a live audience are some of the events featured in Guildhall Library’s May to August programme.

Actors Simon Russell Beale and John Heffernan will open an exclusive ‘drop in’ event at Guildhall Art Gallery’s Basinghall Suite on 10 May by performing extracts from Shakespeare’s plays and on 14 June, people will be invited to dress in Regency-style costumes for a ‘dance experience’ with live music in Guildhall’s Livery Hall. From 15 August to 25 November and as part of events to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London, Guildhall Library will present its exhibition, That Dreadful Fire: The Hand of God, a Great Wind and a Very Dry Season.

Other highlights include:

Memorialising Shakespeare: The First Folio and Other Elegies

Thursday 5 May, 6 – 8pm (£5 plus booking fee; includes wine reception)

Professor Emma Smith discusses the immediate aftermath of Shakespeare’s death – 400 years ago this year – and what it can tell us about his reputation at the end of his career. The talk also explores his lasting monument, the 1623 First Folio.

London at Night: An LMA Film Club Special

Thursday 2 June, 6 – 8pm, (£5 plus booking fee; includes wine reception)

A special screening of films from London Metropolitan Archives’ collection looks at the capital at night, its market traders and its evening socialisers. On 3 August from 2 - 3pm, Simon Gregor, artist-in-residence at Guildhall Library, will present a talk to accompany his exhibition, ‘London at ‘Night’, which runs until 26 August.

Madonna or Whore: A Woman’s Lot in Victorian England

Tuesday 28 June, 2 – 3pm

Jennifer Toynbee-Holmes takes a look at the popular image of the Victorian woman – as the ‘ideal’ woman or wife – through narrative paintings and literary illustrations to offer a unique insight into Victorian sexual morality and their double standards.

Museum Open Day

Wednesday 27 July, 10.30am – 3.30pm

In October, the City of London Police Museum will open its new location in Guildhall Library and to celebrate, the Museum will hold an open day in Guildhall Yard with horses, dogs, and officers in uniform from the past 175 years.

A Plethora of Palaces

Wednesday 24 August, 2 – 3pm

Historian Pete Smith tells the story of the most fascinating palaces in London, and of their more colourful inhabitants, such as The Wisest Fool in Christendom and Stinking Billy.

Sara Pink, Head of Guildhall Library, said:

“Two landmark anniversaries – the death of William Shakespeare 400 years ago and the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire, which raged through the City of London – are commemorated by events at Guildhall Library, which will also play host to a wide range of talks, exhibitions and activities over the coming months.

“Few budding actors will be able to resist the temptation to watch Simon Russell Beale and John Heffernan on stage, before following them to deliver their favourite piece from one of Shakespeare’s plays. There will be also opportunities to view some of the library’s treasures, hear about the unimaginable horrors of the Battle of the Somme, and find out what will be on display at the City of London Police Museum.”

All events at Guildhall Library require booking through and for further details, please email, call 020 7332 1869/1871 or visit



Andrew Buckingham, Media Officer, City of London Corporation

Tel: 020 7332 1452 / Mobile: 07795 333 060



The City of London Corporation is a uniquely diverse organisation. It supports and promotes the City as the world leader in international finance and business services and provides local services and policing for those working in, living in and visiting the Square Mile. It also provides valued services to London and the nation. These include the Barbican Centre and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama; the Guildhall Library and Art Gallery and London Metropolitan Archives; a range of education provision (including three City Academies); five Thames bridges (including Tower Bridge and the Millennium Bridge); the Central Criminal Court at Old Bailey; over 10,000 acres of open spaces (including Hampstead Heath and Epping Forest), and three wholesale food markets. It is also London’s Port Health Authority and runs the Animal Reception Centre at Heathrow. It works in partnership with neighbouring boroughs on the regeneration of surrounding areas and the City Bridge Trust, which it oversees, donates more than £15m to charity annually.


Guildhall Library (Aldermanbury, EC2) is a library of London history, the largest library collection in the world devoted to the history of a single city. The Library values London’s history and traditions, offering a modern library space, open to all with access to e-resources and e-books, alongside access to its extensive printed books collection. The library’s collections (including rare books and manuscripts) are available to everyone - and members of the public do not need to join the library or make an appointment to consult its collections. For more details, please visit