Northampton Guildhall

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Northampton Guildhall

Northampton Guildhall is a building which stands on St Giles' Square in Northampton, England.

Original building[edit]

It was built to the design of Edward William Godwin,[1] begun when he was only 28, between 1861 and 1864, in neo-gothic style. As well as housing Northampton Borough Council, it is also used for a variety of civic purposes, such as weddings or civil partnerships. The building also houses the records of births, marriages and deaths. Historically the building had a court, now used as a meeting room known as the court room and prison cells in the basement. The basement is quite extensive and quite eerie in places. There is also a hidden room in the attic accessible via a secret staircase and this was possibly once the home of a caretaker or other similar worker. There is an impressive Great Hall[1] with walls decorated in 1925 by Colin Gill.[1] These represent famous men connected with the town. There are also murals painted in 1949 by Henry Bird of "The Muses Contemplating Northampton".[2]

Extensions[edit]

Northampton Guildhall, built 1861-4, front facing south, E. W. Godwin, architect.

The Guildhall has been extended twice. The original part of the building was symmetrical with three first-floor windows either side of the main entrance. The west wing was extended in the same style as the original between 1889-92 by Matthew Holding.[1] Despite the shifting architectural trends between the 1860s and the 1890s, the extension was done with great care to match the existing building, and today the joint is hardly perceptible. In 1992 a further, more modern extension was made to the east wing. This later extension was made to be sympathetic to the style of the rest of the building and the final choice made by public ballot from a list of several alternatives. It comprises two storeys of offices around a courtyard with cloisters to the east linking it with the existing building.

Description[edit]

The building's facade is decorated with a number of statues and friezes. The statues are mostly of monarchs who either visited Northampton or have an historical connection with the town, and there are also statues of St George of England, St Andrew of Scotland, and St Patrick of Ireland. The lobby of the east extension has a statue of Spencer Perceval, a Member of Parliament for Northampton and the only British Prime Minister to have been assassinated.

The building is Grade II* listed.[3]

Princess Diana memorial[edit]

Memorial on Northampton Guildhall to Diana, Princess of Wales

Although born in Norfolk, Diana came to Althorp, just north of Northampton. when her father Earl Spencer moved to the family seat there on the death of his father and Diana spent most of her childhood there. A plaque on the eastern extension marks the fact that Diana was made a Freeman of the Borough of Northampton in 1989, marking her and her family's strong connections with the town and with Althorp where she is buried.

The plaque below the memorial reads: "The memorial above was unveiled by the 9th Earl Spencer in memory of his sister, 7 November 2002[4] in the presence of the Mayor of Northampton, Michael Geoffrey Boss".

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Pevsner, Nikolaus; Cherry, Bridget (revision) (1961). The Buildings of England – Northamptonshire. London and New Haven: Yale University Press. pp. 325–6. ISBN 978-0-300-09632-3. 
  2. ^ David Buckman (April 22, 2000) Obituary Henry Bird, Independent
  3. ^ [1] Listed Buildings - Schedule of listed buildings in Northampton - Northampton Borough Council
  4. ^ BBC News 7 November 2002 "Diana memorial unveiled"

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°14′14″N 0°53′41″W / 52.23722°N 0.89472°W / 52.23722; -0.89472