Anyone entering the Dining Hall on the sunny evening cannot help but notice the magnificent west window as the dappled light shafts through the trees in the Whittington Garden and into the room.
The Triple Window that was there, along with the Hall itself, was badly damaged during a German bombing raid on the Saturday and Sunday nights of the 10 and 11th of May 1941.
There are heroic stories relating to those who remained in the hall during the raids as well as of the firefighters who, against all odds, saved the Hall and were rewarded after the Beadle and Hall Keeper, appealed to an officer of the Enfield Fire Brigade to help save the historic building. He suggested that samples of the companies stock might assist the men’s efforts. “Help us to put this fire out, and we’ll help you to something which will put you “, he declared. The promise of the “liberal entertainment” as he called it, did the trickle both counts!
The triple West windows of the dining hall which, commemorated the Jubilee of Queen Victoria of 1897 and the accession of King Edward V11, did not survive. They were replaced as a single chequerboard of plain and engraved Dartington glass. The engraved window was endowed in memory of John and C.R. Wylde but was not completed and installed until 1961.
The largest centre panel was engraved with the Company’s arms. Spaced round it were engravings of some of the signs sported by early Innholders – among them, Masters, William Chaplin’s Cross Keys, Benjamin Worthy Horne’s Golden Cross and Robert Briscoe’s Ram in which, the Company’s plate, had been kept safe during the Great Fire.
Other Inns represented are – The Spur, The George and Dragon, The Swan, The Phoenix, The White Horse and The Dragon.
So it is then, that after the war, when the planners decided not to rebuild the house that was destroyed by the bombs which fell on the opposite side of little College Street, a new and wonderful view was created. This allows the Spring and Summer evening light filtering through the trees in the Whittington Gardens to enter the Hall, and from where, can be seen, the tower and pinnacle of St Michael Paternoster Royal. The Wren church where Dick Whittington, four times Lord Mayor of London, is reputedly buried.
Written by the Master