This Gallery holds the art collection of The City of London. Not only is it free to visit, but most weekdays it has a free guided tour of the gallery at 12.15pm and 1.15pm. The collection on display is small compared to the National Gallery or the Tates but it certainly worth a visit.
The original gallery was destroyed in the Blitz and not rebuilt until 1999. When it was rebuilt, it was designed around holding the painting above, which is huge, around 5.4m by 7.5m, as there was no other gallery in the UK with a space large enough to hold it. The gallery was actually commissioned to be built in 1985, but they discovered that it was being built on the site of a Roman amphitheater. It is possible to visit these remains in the basement of the gallery.
The remains are well laid out with some pieces still in the floor but covered in glass and other areas cleared for you to walk around with a light show imagining where the seats and auditorium would have been.
The most famous work is possibly “La Ghirlandata” by Rossetti which has been recently restored and is now on display on the first floor. It has many commissioned works from the 18th Century to the modern day and there are a couple of the Lord Mayors parade, one from the 1880s and another from the 1960s. It is interesting to compare what has changed and what has remained the same in the intervening years.
Just in case all this was not enough, they have The City of London’s actual copy of the Magna Carta on display on the lower ground floor. Apparently, this is not on permanent show though, so if this would be your main reason for attending, check before you go. It was very quiet on the afternoon I went and there are plenty of seats for you to sit and appreciate the art. All in all, I would say that The Guildhall Gallery is a much overlooked and underrated London Gallery.