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The Guildhall

A Grade I Listed Building in Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.8561 / 51°51'22"N

Longitude: -4.3071 / 4°18'25"W

OS Eastings: 241212

OS Northings: 220020

OS Grid: SN412200

Mapcode National: GBR DG.T892

Mapcode Global: VH3LH.9LCY

Entry Name: The Guildhall

Listing Date: 18 August 1954

Last Amended: 22 February 2006

Grade: I

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 9450

Building Class: Civil

Location: Situated at upper end of the square.

County: Carmarthenshire

Community: Carmarthen

Traditional County: Carmarthenshire

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History

Carmarthen town hall, built 1767-77, to replace late C16 guildhall. The building was designed as a hall with market below, the market opened 1772, the hall completed 1777. Thomas Lloyd has established that the architect was Sir Robert Taylor, this his only known work in Wales, the main windows similar to his Bank of England Court Room and his guildhall at Salisbury. Successive alterations are recorded: hall steps replaced 1788 by Thomas Humphries, carpenter. Double curving flight of external steps from the upper hall added 1811 in Portland stone, and the adjoining market entrances blocked, by John Roberts, mason. A rear wing was added on site of Falcon Inn for jury rooms and offices 1827-9 by D. Morgan. Samuel Lewis in 1833 described the building as having courts and banqueting room over offices and cornmarket. Plans for improvements by E.Haycock, J. Collard, J. Jenkins and C.C. Nelson were submitted in 1842, but nothing done. Clock inserted 1848. Minor repairs 1848 by D. Morgan and 1852 by J. Collard, and proposal for repair and extension by Collard 1859. In 1860-2 W.H. Lindsey removed the front steps and presumably added the ground floor portico and the clock turret (cockerel vane given in 1862). Further alterations in 1898. W. V. Morgan altered the interior in 1908-9, remodelling the court room entirely.
The building was originally stuccoed, but stripped to rubble stone in mid C20, with some loss of original character.

Exterior

Town hall, 2-storey, 3-bay, classical building: Rubblestone originally stuccoed with hipped slate roof and renewed moulded modillion eaves cornice. Later C19 clock turret on roof with open pedimental gable. Front has 3 giant arched recesses at first floor with 3 sunk panels over (the centre one with traces of clock of 1848). The giant arches have stone voussoirs over fine ashlar Palladian windows with Ionic columns. Later C19 or early C20 glazing with marginal glazing bars, stucco still in situ between windows and arch soffits. Windows have ashlar blind balustrades divided by piers, and ashlar continues each side to form band over ashlar ground floor which has entablature and cornice over paired Tuscan columns and pilasters against rusticated walling with matching projecting central portico, the portico of 1860-2, the rest possibly early C19. Outer single pilasters, paired columns to outer side of ground floor windows (aligned with outer sidelight of window above). Windows are recessed, cambered-headed, with horned sashes and sunk panels beneath. The portico has 4 pairs of Tuscan columns, cornice and balustrade, the pairs aligned with side-lights of the centre window and inner side-light of each outer window. Column and pilaster responds, and similar pair of columns and outer pilasters to centre entrance recess with heavy cast-iron gates and side grilles. Matching columns and responds within, and early C20 glazed doors. Portico soffit of very large slightly panelled stone slabs.
Fine C18 lead fluted rainwater head each side of facade, each with downpipe with embossed head on each of 5 lead brackets. Two marble war memorial plaques to Carmarthenshire Royal Engineers within portico.
Each side wall has large first floor blind stuccoed arched panel with a rectangular stuccoed panel over. Ashlar ground floor as on facade, with 3 windows framed by paired columns in rusticated wall with column and pilaster at outer ends framing a narrow windowless bay.
Rear NE wing to Hall Street of 1827-9, stucco, 4 storeys, 3 bays, to same eaves level but with different modillions. Small-paned sash windows, square to top floor, 12-pane to main floors. Ground floor has arched recesses linked by impost band with 2 arched windows and arched door to right. Door has moulded frame, fanlight with radiating tracery and six-panel door with 4 fielded panels. Two basement windows under grilles. There are railings set on a curve in angle. Lead rainwater head with 5 embossed lead brackets to downpipe.
SE rear wing possibly of 1898, of 3 storeys and 2 bays, later C19 with cambered-headed sash windows with marginal glazing bars to upper floors. Ground floor faced with stucco imitating ashlar has channelled pilasters framing recesses with round-headed sash windows, also with marginal glazing bars. Building continues recessed behind Plume of Feathers to asymmetrical end gable.
Rear of main hall has centre curved stair tower with arched windows. Gable to right, rear of 1827 NE wing, with awkward join above stair tower, apparently altered.

Interior

Much remodelled 1908-9: of which date the bevelled glass inner screen and probably the black and white paving. The original building presumably included only the front hall and rooms each side, which would have been part of the open market. Two doors each side from hall and then 2 marble steps up to inner hall (presumably early C19 addition) with stair in plain curved-ended stair-tower to rear right, similar hall paving. Two doors to right and c1908 screen to left to secondary stair in hall running N. Main stair is cantilevered stone with mid C19 shaped balusters, also seen on a gallery that crosses stair hall at second floor. Flat ceiling with altered roof lantern.
Secondary stair has single flight of cantilevered stone stairs with wrought iron balustrade and bulbous newel. A further service stair to E with c1908 turned balusters. First floor main landing has stick balusters, as also to stair up to second floor, closed string stair to attic.
First floor courtroom of 1908-9 has 2 double-doors with bevelled glass and framed oval top pane. Courtroom is panelled to impost level of Venetian windows, plaster panels above, then deep frieze with festoons, cornice, deep cove, and Greek-key ceiling border. Big arched recess on S wall behind magistrates bench, which has 3-bay panelled front and low balustrading over panels to each side. Raked upholstered benches each side of centre table, with curving benches around to panelled square dock. Raked seating behind dock at N end. Arched recess in N wall and also in E side wall, which has balcony on scrolled consoles with panelled and balustraded front. A special staircase leads directly from the cells to the dock.
In 1827 rear wing, former Grand Jury room by David Morgan, not accessible at time of survey; the furniture is of special interest also by David Morgan, as are the pictures in the courtroom.

Reasons for Listing

Graded I as one of the principal Georgian civic buildings of Wales, and the only work in Wales by Sir Robert Taylor.

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