The Lynx (also called lucern and lizard) is visible throughout the Hall and included in the Skinners’ Company’s crest. The lynx is a short-tailed wildcat whose fur was sought-after by medieval aristocrats; historically no one ranked lower than an Earl was allowed to wear it.
Today the Company is seeking ways to raise awareness of the critical decline of the Iberian Lynx through the work of the conservation charity Fauna and Flora International. Under Lynx facts they say:
To help the lynx, you can buy wine with cork stoppers. The lynx needs a combination of cork oak woodlands and open scrubland to survive. Cork harvesting is both traditional and sustainable – the outer layer of bark is peeled off, leaving the tree standing and able to grow it back for the next harvest. So by buying real corks, you are helping to maintain cork oak trees and indirectly, the conditions for the Iberian lynx.
In 1901 the Court of the Skinners’ Company decided to put aside some money for decorating the Great Hall, formerly known as the Banqueting Hall. The artist and craftsman Frank Brangwyn was commissioned to create eleven panels, all oil on canvas representing the “stir and colour of the long-drawn Pageant of the Guild”.
The subjects of the murals were taken from the history of the Skinners’ Company and events in the history of the City of London. The first panel to be completed, “The Departure of Sir James Lancaster” for the East Indies, was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1904, while the last two additions, “Education” and “Charity”, were painted nearly 30 years later. This is a unique body of work, described by Walter Shaw Sparrow as “remarkable in the history of British art”.