Victorian London - Buildings, Monuments and Museums - Hall of Commerce

HALL OF COMMERCE, in THREADNEEDLE STREET. Built 1840-1843, on the site of the French Church, by Edward Moxhay, (d. 1849), originally a common shoemaker, and afterwards a wealthy biscuit-baker, in Threadneedle-street. The bas-relief on the front was executed by M.L.Watson, a young sculptor of promise, who died in 1847. The Hall, an unfortunate speculation for its founder, was designed for the purposes of a mercantile Club, and supported by the annual subscriptions of its members. A fine Roman pavement (now in the British Museum) was discovered while the foundations were making.

source: Peter Cunningham, Hand-Book of London, 1850

HALL OF COMMERCE, No. 52, Threadneedle-street, was designed and built in 1840-43 by Mr. Moxhay, formerly a biscuit-baker in the same street: it occupies the site of the French Protestant Church, in clearing away which a fine Roman tesselated pavement it was discovered, and is now in the British Museum.
    The Hall facade has a bas-relief 73 feet in length, with life-size figures, by M. L. Watson: the ecu trai figure is Commerce, with outspread wings and hands, encouraging the Fine Arts; the groups symbolizing the intellectual and physical advantages of Commerce. Thus, sinister are Peace; Industry, agricultural and mechanical figures bringing fruits and produce, and others spinning; next is Navigation, guided by Astronomy and Geography; and Education and Civilization, with Liberty freeing the Slave. Dexter is History; next is a group of the Arts and Sciences; Enterprise guided by Genius, and awaiting their arrival is a group of aborigines. The sculptor died young, in 1847.
    The building was opened as a mercantile club-house; right and left were two superb halls, with Corinthian columns and pilasters, picturesque friezes, and elegantly coved ceilings. In the larger hall, 130 feet long, 44 wide, and 50 feet high, March 1, 1851, was given the dinner to Mr. Macready on his retirement from the stage; upwards of 500 guests. The Hall of Commerce, after Mr. Moxhay's death in 1849, was sold for 44,000l.; the site alone is stated to have cost him 35,000l. The building was next altered for the Bank of London.

source: John Timbs, Curiosities of London, 1867