Moot Hall

The Old Moot Hall (right), used as such before the later hall (below) was built on Market Hill in the reign of Mary Tudor. There is some evidence that this building continued to be used for civic purposes in the reign of James I. His arms are painted on the chimney breast of a downstairs chamber. It has been suggested that this was the home of Mayor Wells in the fifteenth century but there is no evidence to support this. It is an exceptional building and well maintained by the present owners.

Moot Hall (Cross Street)

Moot Hall
A view of Market Hill before the clearance that followed the Town Improvement Act of 1826.

The New Moot Hall(left) is only known to us through watercolours and drawings of the early nineteenth century. They show a double-gabled structure facing St Peter’s church of which the left hand portion appears to be an independent shop though it may have been part of the Moot Hall originally. The gable of the second portion was covered with a huge rendition of the Royal Arms. Beneath is an oriel window of twelve lights filling the full width of the facade. On the ground floor is the main door and a broad timber arch which indicates that it may at one time have been used as a covered market. By the nineteenth century it had been closed in and a run of lock-up shops filled the space. A charming bell cupola crowned the gable.

The council chamber filled the first floor, which also acted as a courtroom. At the far end, facing the window was a raised dais to accommodate a table and chairs for the mayor and aldermen. For the first fifty years the hall was also used for the performance of plays but received much damage as a result. It was thoroughly restored in 1607 and thereafter the performance of plays in the Moot Hall was banned and they moved into the inn yards.

A new town hall was built in 1828 and two years later the Moot Hall was sold to the Paving and lighting Commissioners for £300 so that it could be demolished and the site cleared.

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