Portsmouth Guildhall

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Coordinates: 50°47′51.8″N 1°5′34.4″W / 50.797722°N 1.092889°W / 50.797722; -1.092889

Portsmouth Guildhall, as of June 2014

Portsmouth Guildhall is the biggest wedding, events and conference venue in the Hampshire city of Portsmouth, England. It has been managed by the Portsmouth Cultural Trust,[1] registered Charity number 1153358, since April 2011.


The building, completed in 1890,[2] was designed in the neo-classical style by architect William Hill, who was responsible for the design of Bolton Town Hall. Local architect Charles Bevis, in partnership with Hill, directed the construction. Hill died before the building was completed and Bevis added to the design. The building was originally the town hall, but on 21 April 1926 Portsmouth was raised to the status of a city and the town hall was renamed the Guildhall. On 10 January 1941, during the Second World War, it was hit by incendiary bombs and gutted. The interior and roof were destroyed, with just the outer walls and tower remaining, albeit fire-damaged. It was rebuilt after the war at a cost of £1.5 million, using war compensation funds, and on 8 June 1959 Her Majesty the Queen performed the re-opening ceremony. The interior was altered from the original and the external style is missing much of its detail, especially the dome above the clock and the finials atop the balustrades around the roof.

There are five bells in its bell tower known as the Pompey Chimes. The biggest bell is named after Queen Victoria and is inscribed with her name.[3] The remaining four were named by public poll and Nelson, Victory and John Pounds[4] The official naming was stalled due to the popularity of the vote for Harry Redknapp,[5] the former Portsmouth Football Club manager who departed the club shortly before voting commenced. Foul play was suspected by the council who ran the vote and the bells have remained unnamed.[6]

The Pompey Chimes fell silent in 2003 when the bell tower was found to be in need of restoration from the corrosive nature of salt in the air.[7] The work was carried out by Smith of Derby Group, the restoration project finishing in time for Queen Elizabeth's visit to Portsmouth in 2009 to mark the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings.[8]

The Guildhall has a standing capacity of up to 2,500 [9] for concerts, and can accommodate 10 to 500 people for weddings or banquets. Other facilities include a Cafe, art galleries, meeting rooms for hire and a business lounge on the first floor. It is in the city centre close to the Portsmouth and Southsea railway station.


The Guildhall prior to World War Two

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