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The County Hall, Including the Former Town Hall, the Former County Constabulary Headquarters and the Judge's Lodgings

A Grade II* Listed Building in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.8156 / 51°48'56"N

Longitude: -0.8114 / 0°48'40"W

OS Eastings: 482031

OS Northings: 213665

OS Grid: SP820136

Mapcode National: GBR D2X.5PK

Mapcode Global: VHDV4.WMFJ

Entry Name: The County Hall, Including the Former Town Hall, the Former County Constabulary Headquarters and the Judge's Lodgings

Listing Date: 7 April 1952

Last Amended: 5 August 2009

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1117935

English Heritage Legacy ID: 41883

Location: Aylesbury, Aylesbury Vale, Buckinghamshire, HP20

County: Buckinghamshire

District: Aylesbury Vale

Civil Parish: Aylesbury

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Aylesbury

Church of England Diocese: Oxford

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Aylesbury

Listing Text


806/1/36
806/2/36

MARKET SQUARE (Southeast side)

The County Hall, including the former town hall, the former County Constabulary Headquarters and the Judge's Lodgings
(Formerly listed as: MARKET SQUARE THE COUNTY HALL)

07-APR-1952

GV
II*

Complex of local government buildings comprising County Hall (built commenced 1722, completed 1740; architects Thomas Harris and a Mr Brandon), Judge's Lodgings (1850; David Brandon), former County Constabulary Headquarters (1865; David Brandon), and former town hall (1865; EB Lamb).

PLAN: Aylesbury's County Hall is an imposing early C18 building facing the town's Market Square. To its left (as seen from the Market Square) is the Brandon extension built in 1865 as a town hall and corn exchange; to the right the former County Constabulary Headquarters; while to its rear, attached to the County Hall via a link block, is the Judge's Lodgings of 1850.

County Hall
EXTERIOR: Dated 1723 on rainwater head. Of seven bays, with two storeys over a basement. In red brick, with Ketton-type ashlar stone up to springing of ground floor window arches, and with chamfered stone quoins, a moulded stone string at the level of springing of ground-floor window and door arches, and a moulded stone cornice and parapet. The three centre bays break forward slightly, and are topped with a bracketed cornice and a pediment crowned by three stone urns. Two elaborate cast lead rain water hoppers feed the down-spouts which run down the centre of the flanking bays.

Five windows and two doorways to ground floor. Central doorway (originally to magistrates' chamber) approached by flight of moulded stone steps curving outwards on plan with heavy wrought iron balustrade. Doorway flanked by two semi-circular headed windows. Early C18 wrought iron grille in tympanum of doorway and in all the windows on the ground floor. The central bays flanked by two semi-circular windows. Courtroom doorway to right hand with iron studded doors and flight
of moulded steps. There was originally a balancing door on the left side giving access to the gaol; this is now a window. Barred rectangular windows light the basement beneath.

Seven windows on first floor, the centre window being semi-circular headed, framed by Doric pilasters supporting broken entablature, the cornice lining with the springing of the arch which has a moulded architrave. The remaining six windows have moulded architraves, cornices and pediments.

INTERIOR: The right-hand door gives on to the early C18 staircase with turned bulbous balusters and a broad handrail leading to the Court room. This arrives at a broad hall. At the back of this there are two big bays of panelling, with giant Doric pilasters and an entablature framing the entrance to the courtroom. The early C18 court room itself suffered severe damage by fire on 9th Feb 1970; it was subsequently recreated with woodwork mouldings and carvings in facsimile, incorporating some original work saved from the fire. It has 'box pews', gallery, raised judge's seat with Corinthian columns and a broken pediment with the Royal Arms. The upper hall was remodelled by David Brandon in 1852. The ground floor was divided into offices in the 1950s, but much original fabric appears to survive behind partitions and boxing in. In the basement are vaulted cells.

Former County Constabulary Headquarters
Built to blend in with the County Hall which it adjoins, and with similar materials and detailing but of three storeys rather than two. Round-headed openings to the ground floor, pedimented windows to the first and second floors.

Former Town Hall
The former town hall to the left of the County Hall is in a decorative Jacobean style, in red brick with stone detailing comprising window surrounds, quoins, broad bands defining the floor divisions, and applied pairs of columns to the ground and first floors. It is of two tall storeys surmounted to the centre by a gabled parapet. Offices occupy the first floor above a ground floor which is largely an open, arcaded, thoroughfare. Facing on to the Market Place, it is slightly asymmetrical, with a main double-width arch to the front flanked to either side by narrower and lower arches for pedestrian access. To the first floor there are mullion and transom windows, with a large bay window over the main arch. A low balustrade surmounts the front elevation. The left-most bay is rather tower-like, returning round the corner. The rear façade of the wing, rebuilt in brick above the arches after the fire of 1962, is severely simple; three windows light the first floor. The arcaded ground floor is supported internally on stone piers with elaborately carved heads. To the left, an elaborate Neo-classical stone door case has a carved tympanum with putti supporting a cartouche with the inscription 'Thou openest thine hand and satisfyest the desire of every living thing': presumably this led to the corn exchange. The first-floor (not inspected) is occupied by offices.

Judge's Lodgings
The Judge's Lodgings of 1850, to the rear of the County Hall, is a three- and four-storey brick building, roughly T-plan, with a low, hipped, slate roof. It is broadly in a late Georgian style with some Italianate detailing. This is especially so on its five-bay front façade, facing the rear of the County Hall, as shown in the large brick porch with recessed round-headed brick arches and oversized stone keystone, and in the run of five round-arched windows. From its double doors a short passage runs to the large staircase hall, which occupies the centre of the building; this retains its wide wooden staircase with low balustrade, newel posts and ball finials. Running back from this front range is a three-bay range with a large, full-height, angular bay projecting to the rear. This bay lights one of the two main reception rooms (lounge and dining room) which occupy the first floor of the rear of the building and which are the main spaces of interest. There are a number of classical marble fireplaces and deep-beamed ceilings with gilded brackets in the dining room. Otherwise, where there is surviving woodwork and fittings like fireplaces, they are very modest.

A three-storey link block connects the Judge's Lodgings and County Hall. This is pierced by a broad, double-height archway which provides vehicular access. Above this is an internal corridor.

To the north-east side of the Judge's Lodgings the civic property is bounded by a 2m high brick wall. This is included in the listing for group value.

The County Hall and the Bell Hotel (Grade II) form a group with No. 3 Walton Street, the White Swan Inn (Grade II).

HISTORY: Aylesbury replaced Buckingham as the county town in the C18. The County Hall, designed by Thomas Harris and a Mr Brandon (Sir John Vanbrugh arbitrated on rival designs submitted) was begun in 1722. The rain water goods are dated 1723, but building work was then suspended for lack of funds from 1724 to 1737. Internal fitting was completed in 1740. In 1865 David Brandon (whether he was related to the earlier architect is not clear) added a brick, Jacobean-style town hall and corn exchange to the left of the County Hall, with a high, arched, undercroft-like ground storey allowing access beneath. At the same time he added a County Constabulary Headquarters to the right of the County Hall in a matching style. The corn exchange and most of the town hall burnt down in 1962, but the arched range off the County Hall survives.

Until 1845, when it was replaced by a new building elsewhere in the town, a gaol stood to the rear of the County Hall. In 1850 a new Judge's Lodgings designed by Lamb was built on the site, joined to the rear of the County Hall by a narrow link block pierced by a tall arch.

SOURCES: N. Pevsner and E. Williamson, Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire (2000), pp153-4

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The County Hall complex comprising the County Hall, former town hall, former County Constabulary Headquarters, and the Judge's Lodgings are listed at Grade II*, for the following principal reasons:
* Together these form Buckinghamshire's main C18 and C19 group of civic buildings, standing in a prominent location on Aylesbury's Market Square
* The County Hall's façade, designed c1720, is an early example of the Palladian style in a provincial building
* Although a post-1970 fire recreation, its courtroom is a fine evocation of the original early C18 courtroom
* The former town hall to the left of the County Hall is an exuberant and successful Victorian essay of 1865 in the Jacobean style
* The former County Constabulary Headquarters to the right of the County Hall was built in a style sympathetic to it in 1865
* While of lesser interest, the Judge's Lodging to the rear of the County Hall is listed as a purpose-built Judge's Lodgings of 1850 which survives little altered; it is a key element of Buckinghamshire's main C18 and C19 group of civic buildings.

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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