The Tallow Chandlers' Company was formed in about 1300 to regulate oils, ointments, lubricants and fat-based preservatives and to manage candle making using tallow (animal fats). Over the next 150 years we expanded in membership and influence, before being granted a coat of arms in 1456 by Henry VI, and then full livery status by Edward IV in 1462.

By the 1500s, we were looking after London’s trade in a wide range of domestic goods, including sauces, vinegar, soap, cheese and herrings. We were also intimately involved in the service of the City. Our tallow candles played a key role in the compulsory street lighting for the City of London, and we were supplying the City Watch with 60 men.

We bought the site of the Tallow Chandlers’ Hall in 1476. The modern Hall, a Grade I listed building, was built in 1672 after the destruction of the original hall during the Great Fire of London. Having survived the Blitz, it is one of the few Livery Halls to remain relatively unchanged since then. We still make regular use of it for charitable, trade and social events.

Our fortunes declined at the end of the 17th century. New candle making materials, such as spermaceti and paraffin wax, replaced tallow. In the 1800s gas lighting arrived, to be replaced by electric lighting in the 1900s. However, that was offset by tallow’s increasing importance in the manufacture of soap. In fact, in 1853 Palmerston – seeking to encourage public cleanliness – removed all duty on tallow.

Nowadays, few livery companies still police specific areas of commerce. There are some exceptions; gold is still assayed at Goldsmiths’ Hall, pharmacists sit their exams at Apothecaries’ Hall, the Vintners are still involved in wine regulation and the Watermen still control professional standards on the Thames.

Company Timeline











Tallow is being traded between London and Perth, Scotland, in ships owned by London tallow chandlers.


Tallow chandlers are ranked with the other great mysteries and trades named in the Act of Edward III which appoints trades and crafts.



A Grant of Arms is issued to the Tallow Chandlers' Company.


City lay orders all households in London to hang a lantern lit by a tallow candle outside of their homes, as one of the City's earliest forms of street lighting.


The Tallow Chandlers' Company is issued with a Charter of Incorporation by Edward IV, granting the Company authority over tallow candle making in the City of London.


The Tallow Chandlers' Company purchases a Hall on its current site on Dowgate Hill, having previously been occupying a hall on the corner of Old Broad Street and Throgmorton Street.



Letters Patent are granted by Henry VIII authorising the Lord Mayor with the Master and Wardens of the Tallow Chandlers to search for all manner of oils brought into the City for sale, and to destroy all found defective or wrongly mixed.


Tallow Chandlers are placed 21st in order of precedence among Livery Companies.

Henry VIII issues a Charter confirming the Company’s incorporation as well as a pardon for all trespasses committed before his accession.



The Tallow Chandlers’ Company receives a beautifully illuminated Confirmation of Arms from Elizabeth I.


The English Civil War comes to an end, having nearly bankrupted the Tallow Chandlers’ Company.


The Great Fire of London destroys almost the entire city, including Tallow Chandlers’ Hall, together with 27 other Company owned houses and tenements. However, many of the precious documents and some furniture is saved by the quick-thinking Master, Richard Edlin.


The rebuilding of Tallow Chandlers’ Hall is completed.


Along with the Tin Plate Workers’ and Horners’ Companies, the Tallow Chandlers’ Company petition against the introduction of oil-lamp street lighting in the City.



A shop owner is successful in claiming damages for the Tallow Chandlers’ unlawful breaking of his candles, resulting in all deputations for searches by the Company being suspended the following year.


It is passed by the Common Council that any tallow chandler in the City of London wishing to join a Livery must join the Tallow Chandlers’ Company and no other.



Sir Roger Monk becomes Master of the Company, going on to donate many of the beautiful paintings still hanging in the Main Hall.


All tax on soap and tallow is removed.


Tallow Chandlers’ Hall undergoes significant restoration.



Stained glass windows are installed in the Main Hall to commemorate the Coronation of Edward VII.


On the outbreak of the Second World War, almost all the Company archives are transferred to the Clerk’s safety deposit vault, a steel bell-shaped shelter is installed in the courtyard, stained glass is boarded up and precious items are moved to the basement.


A Reunion Livery Dinner is held at the (largely unscathed) Tallow Chandlers’ Hall, the first Company dinner held in seven years.


To celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Company’s Incorporation, a new royal charter and grant of arms are granted by Elizabeth II, and an Anniversary Banquet is held at Mansion House.


The Company’s Benevolent Fund is set up, with £30,000 bequeathed by the Company Clerk, Randall Monier-Williams.


Remains of a 1.5m thick Roman wall, possibly a riverside wall, are discovered underneath Tallow Chandlers’ Hall.



The Tallow Chandlers’ Company celebrates its 550th anniversary.


The Company supports its first flagship school: Greig City Academy in Haringey.


The Company begins its support of two more flagship schools: The Halley Academy in Greenwich and Cubitt Town Primary School in Tower Hamlets.


The Company funds the Engineering & Design Centre at the Halley Academy.


To commemorate the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, a stained glass roundel window is installed in the Main Hall.

‘Need to know’ facts about the Tallow Chandlers’ Company

  • Tallow is the rendered fat of cattle and sheep, and a chandler is a maker and seller of candles.
  • Traditionally tallow has been used to make candles and soap, but also as a lubricant in engineering and more recently as fuel in industrial processes.
  • Our Company has its origins around 700 years ago, with a group of craftsmen working together in Cheapside to support the tallow candle trade.
  • As time progressed, the role of the Tallow Chandlers grew to include the regulation of prices and quality of tallow being sold in the City, to protect customers and craftsmen alike.
  • Historically, the Tallow Chandlers’ Company was key in monitoring London’s trade not only in tallow candles, but also other domestic goods such as soap, sauces and even herrings at one point.
  • Our first Charter, granted in 1462 by Edward IV, gave the Tallow Chandlers the authority to seize and destroy inferior goods associated with the trade.
  • Tallow candles played a vital role in London’s compulsory street lighting which was introduced in the 16th century.
  • Fortunes declined for the Tallow Chandlers in around 1700 when new candle making materials, such as spermaceti and paraffin wax, replaced tallow.
  • The Company’s situation improved at the end of the 18th c. with an enormous increase in London’s import of tallow – due to the Industrial Revolution and Britain’s rapidly rising population creating an increased need for soap.
  • The Tallow Chandlers’ Hall stands on a site acquired by the Company in 1476.
  • Our current Hall was built in 1672 following the destruction of the original in the Great Fire of 1666.
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