The Guild was founded in 1886, and hasn’t always been based in its current home in Queens Square. Earlier homes include the Century Club in Pall Mall, Clifford’s Inn, and the Hall at Barnard’s Inn. I struck lucky with Barnard’s Inn.
This drawing is by Joseph Holland Tringham (1861-1908) and was published in the London Illustrated News for 8th July 1893. The representation of ladderback chairs in this drawing is not perfect - they appear to have rolled ends to the arms. However, a couple of photographs taken in the previous year suggest that this is a mistake (perhaps between the original sketch and the studio version), and that the chairs are, indeed, Clissetts.
The City of London Archive holds a photograph of the interior of the hall taken in 1892 by Bedford Lemere & Co. I can’t show the photograph here because of copyright, but do check it out. It shows three Clissett low-back chairs, and a high-back. The furniture over on the right hand side includes the current AWG Master’s table, and the original Master’s chair (not the Kenton & Co chair used today).
English Heritage also has this same photograph in its collection , and a further one providing a clearer view of the three low-backs. The metadata for these photographs tells us the exact date they were taken, 12 November 1892.
These photographs were taken with 12x10 inch plate cameras, and should show enormous detail. Unfortunately, English Heritage charge about £25 for a high-res image – this research is done on a shoestring, so this is just too much. So, while it seems to me almost certain that these are Clissett’s chairs (whose else could they be at this early date?), final confirmation will have to wait. In the meantime, I’ll try to find another source.
Bedford Lemere & Co were the leading architectural photographers of their day. If you want to know more about their extraordinary work, check out the online exhibition on the RIBA website.