Queen Elizabeth I’s only surviving dress goes on display as part of the Treasures of Gold and Silver Wire exhibition at Guildhall Art Gallery in the City of London

Visitors to the City of London Corporation’s Guildhall Art Gallery will be taken on a fascinating journey through history this autumn, as they marvel at a dazzling display of over 200 items – from centuries-old robes to contemporary jewellery – in its new exhibition.

Opening on 29 September and running for only six weeks to 12 November 2023, ‘Treasures of Gold and Silver Wire’ will showcase an astonishing collection of royal regalia, theatrical costumes, military attire, ecclesiastical artefacts, and beautiful modern jewellery, silversmithing, and embroidery. It forms the finest collection of gold and silver wire objects to ever be brought together in an exhibition.

Highlights of the exhibition include garments worn by Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Elizabeth II – the 16th century Bacton Altar Cloth, believed to be the only surviving dress worn by the monarch, and a glove worn by her late Majesty at her Coronation in 1953.

Other stand out features include:

·       Iconic pieces of menswear, including the court suit of Charles Dickens and the legendary RSC robe worn by David Tennant in Richard II

·       An array of rare English Tudor embroidery, with a hearse cloth from 1515, Queen Mary's Coronation Dress adorned with gold and silver silk thread from 1911, and the Silver Jubilee Cope presented to the Bishop of London in 1977 to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II's reign

·       The crown and gold robe worn by Dame Helen Mirren when she played Cleopatra

·       Television costumes worn by Claire Foy and Matt Smith in “The Crown”

·       Gold-braided dress uniforms for the Army, Navy, and Air Force

·       The coat of a State Trumpeter from the Household Cavalry

·       Spectacular modern creations of jewellery and embroidery using Gold and Silver wire

Curated by Dr. Karen Watts, Curator Emeritus at the Royal Armouries, this exhibition celebrates the 400th anniversary of the Worshipful Company of Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers, and will be opened by the livery company’s Patron, HRH The Duchess of Gloucester.

Treasures of Gold and Silver Wire is an integral part of the City’s arts and cultural offering and forms part of the City of London Corporation's Destination City programme, which sets out a vision for the Square Mile to become a world-leading leisure destination for UK and international visitors, workers, and residents to enjoy.

The City Corporation is the fourth largest funder of heritage and cultural activities in the UK and invests over £130m every year. The organisation manages a range of world-class cultural and heritage institutions, including the Barbican Centre, Tower Bridge, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Guildhall Art Gallery, London Metropolitan Archives, and Keats House. It also supports the London Symphony Orchestra and the Museum of London.

Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Culture, Heritage, and Libraries Committee, Munsur Ali, said:

“With such a visually engaging range of exhibits on display, this new exhibition promises to provide a feast for the senses.

“I am sure that the show will prove very popular, in particular, with costume designers, fashion and military historians, theatre fans, and lovers of jewellery, who will find it very hard to resist the invitation to see this remarkable collection.

“We are proud to host the exhibition as part of our Destination City programme”

Master Gold and Silver Wyre Drawer, Catherine Carr, said:

“This superb exhibition will showcase the beautiful application of gold and silver wire over the centuries and will appeal to all ages, offering an opportunity to view examples of gold and silver wiredrawing of a calibre unmatched anywhere.

“Visitors to the gallery will be able to put the exhibits in their proper social, cultural, and historic contexts, discover the stories connected to them, and marvel at the creativity, attention to detail, patience, and technology that went into their design.”

Treasures of Gold and Silver Wire will run at Guildhall Art Gallery from 29 September to 12 November. Find out more from


About the City of London Corporation:

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally successful UK.   

About Destination City

The City of London Corporation’s flagship Destination City programme sets out a vision for the Square Mile to become a world-leading leisure destination for UK and global visitors, workers, and residents to enjoy.

About Guildhall Art Gallery:

The historic Guildhall Art Gallery originally opened in 1886 and is home to City of London’s magnificent art collection. Particularly rich in Victorian art and ranging from Pre-Raphaelites to depictions London’s colourful past, the Gallery’s basement houses the remains of London’s Roman Amphitheatre, dating from AD70. The Gallery also owns one of the largest oil paintings in Britain, John Singleton Copley’s Defeat of the Floating Batteries at Gibraltar (1783 – 1791), which is on permanent display.

About the Worshipful Company of Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers:

The Worshipful Company of Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers is a charity that maintains the traditions and customs of the City of London, and supports the Lord Mayor and the City of London Corporation in promoting the status and image of the City. It works to support the ancient wire trade and provides awards for outstanding workmanship in the modern usage of gold and silver wire and thread, and seeks to encourage young people working with gold and silver wire to connect with the Company.