Description: The Guildhall
Date Listed: 1 May 1953
English Heritage Building ID: 288934
OS Grid Reference: SU9976449492
OS Grid Coordinates: 499764, 149492
Latitude/Longitude: 51.2359, -0.5724
SU 9949SE & SU 9949NE GUILDFORD HIGH STREET
8/72 & 5/72 The Guildhall
Guildhall. Hall or courtroom built c.1550 and extended at north (rear) end in
1589; front council chamber and facade added in 1683 by public subscription,
cupola rebuilt in replica in 1882, internal alterations in 1893 and further
restorations and alterations carried out in C20. Timber framed, clad in brick
to rear and with painted timber front, plain tiled roof above with wooden
cupola on lead covered plinth and under ribbed lead dome with iron finial.
Two storeys, first floor projecting over on three caryatid brackets carved with
torsos in a vigorous style. Cupola above of octagonal plan on lead plinth with
deep moulded eaves, round-arched openings on each face with turned balustrades
across lower half and moulded base below. Bell removed in 1930 to Guildhall
Museum and new one cast in 1932. Small stack immediately behind cupola on roof
ridge. Three bay front with trapezoidal pediment above and deep, bold modillioned
eaves cornice. 3 large mullioned and transomed leaded casements across the first
floor flanked by Ionic pilasters on panelled pedestals. Outer triangular pediments
over windows flank centre segmental pediment and narrow side windows in return
walls each have squashed triangular pediment above. Plain iron balcony railings
across the first floor with angle finials and three panels of scrolled work. Three
double doors under over-lights across the ground floor. From the centre of the
pediment projects an ornate clock, dated 1683 and possibly made by John Ayleward,
although the mechanism seems to be older than the case, supported on a gilded
beam and five elaborately ornamented and scrolled ties. Square clock case under
carved segmental pediment and flanked by thick ornate foliage and fruit garlands;
minute hand added in 1828.
Interior:- Courtroom/Hall: Three bay open hall with Cl9 panelling up to height
of 14 feet on walls. Chamfered Queen-post, windbraced roof with narrow chamfers
on tie-beams and chamfered windbraces. Stained glass window in north end wall
with 3 panels of stained glass including Royal Coats of Arms and the ancient
and modern arms of the town of Guildford.
Mayor's Parlour (behind Courtroom):- Panelled and with plaster frieze around
eaves decorated with animals, including rabbits, hares and hedgehogs
representing the countryside around the town. Staircase to upper floor inserted
in 1893 and closed off at the bottom by wrought-iron gates with gilt flowers and
scroll decoration which, with accompanying standards for lights were made by the
First Floor Council Chamber:- Panelled throughout under wooden dentilled and
scroll-bracketed eaves cornice. Clunch fireplace under fielded panel over-
mantle and in dentilled Ionic, fluted baluster-type pilaster surround on the
angled wall is believed to have been moved from Stoughton House. The Jacobean
style caryatids at the ends support a lintel with half-egg patterns and carved
panels representing the four humours: sanguineus, cholericus, phlegmaticus and
melancholicus based on engravings by Raphael Sadeler after allegorical paintings
by Marten de Vos. Iron fire surround decorated with foliage scrolls and Prince
of Wales feathers. The courtroom was originally connected by an alley running
along the old medieval plot boundary to the police cells at the rear of the
police station on North Street . Photographs in N.M.R.
The Guildhall forms the focal point of the High Street at Guildford being two-
thirds of the way up the hill and is of great landscape value, the Guildhall
clock having become the symbol of Guildford and the most famous clock in Surrey.
V.C.H. (1967 Edn) VOL. III p.551.
PEVSNER: BUILDINGS OF ENGLAND, SURREY (1971) p.276.
M. ALEXANDER: GUILDFORD AS IT WAS (1978)
Listing NGR: SU9976149498
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.