Page 6 of 10of Sussex Hall and 52 Leadenhall Street at £600 p.a. and the other to Messrs Harry and Walter Carter of nos. 51 and 53 Leadenhall Street at £400 p.a. Thereafter the site must have been cleared for redevelopment, although the Court minutes contain no reference to this, and the Company’s Hall, part of the fabric of which previously dated back to the first half of the 16th century having survived the Fire, vanished for ever without apparently any record being made of what had survived.
III. THE HALL ESTATEMessrs Harry and Walter Carter did not prove “a good covenant” for the lease of nos. 51 and 53 Leadenhall Street, they allowed their rent to fall into arrears, and eventually one of them died and the other was described as “non compos mentis”, and the Court instructed the Clerk as the Company’s solicitor to negotiate a new lease to the New Imperial Investment Society for a term of 67 years from 25th March1… at a reduced rent of £400 p.a. Eighteen years passed and then in 1913 the Clerk informed the Court that the City Corporation had given notice under the “Michael Angelo Taylor Act”, a Statute which facilitated the widening of City Streets, of their intention to acquire by compulsory purchase the freehold of the Company’s properties, nos. 52-55 Leadenhall Street. The sale was completed in 1915 at the price of £16,500. The final sale and demolition of these properties must have left “Sussex Hall” or “Sussex House”, as it was now known to the public, if not the Company, somewhat exposed, and it seems that the Company at this point lost interest in the site as an investment. Without delay the Company entered into negotiation with the City of London Freehold Property Company, who were interested in the redevelopment of this and adjoining property, and in April 1919 a sale to them of the Company’s freehold interest of the remainder of the site was completed at the price of £14,500. The loss of interest was now so complete that no attempt ever seems to have been made to retain the early title deeds which would have been of great interest to future historians of the Company. However, fifteen years later Mr Stephen Bird, a partner in the solicitors firm that had acted for the purchasers and who was then the Renter Warden presented to the Court “a set of ancient deeds relating to the Company’s old Hall in Leadenhall Street which the Court accepted with an expression of gratitude”. We may be thankful that the Renter Warden of 1935 had some sense of history, although strangely enough the Court had already put in hand the search for an author of a history of the Company that was to result in Walter Bell’s book, although again even more strangely they never drew his attention to the existence of these deeds!
At this point it may be considered instructive to consider how the other seven Building Craft Companies had fared in relation to their halls. All the Companies