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Northampton Guildhall

Northampton Guildhall

Northampton Guildhall

History of the Guildhall

The beginning

After the old town hall (located between Abington Street and Wood Hill) became too small due to growing demands a competition was held to find a new design for a new building in St Giles Square.

The winning entry was submitted by E.W. Godwin from Bristol. This building is now the Eastern part of the present Guildhall and was finished in 1864.

The extension

As the town continued to grow the Town Hall again became too small and another competition was held. This time for an extension. Two designs were chosen. The exterior was to be done by Matthew Holding and the interior was to be done by A. W. Jeffrey.

Holding's continuation keeps the style of the original, while converting the original rather square facade into an inspired asymmetrical design - a splendid example of richly decorated Victorian Gothic architecture.

Statues on Northampton Guildhall

The statues and tableaux

Fourteen statues stand high above the street under their canopies, one before each window. Many of them are monarchs and famous people who had close ties with the town.

Illustrations of some of Aesop's fables can be seen carved on the capitals of the first floor window jambs. Below them are illustrations of Northampton life.

In the arches of each ground floor window are sculpted scenes of historical events which took place in Northampton or within the County.

A series of heraldic shields runs along the base of the ground floor windows. On Holding's part these mostly represent the arms of prominent county families.

The main corridor inside Northampton Guildhall

Inside the Guildhall

Inside the main doorway are two sculptured tableaux. The tableaux on the left depicts the invasion of England by the Danes in the 19th century. The tableaux on the right depicts Princess Alexandra of Denmark arriving as the bride of the Prince of Wales in 1863.

On the walls of the corridor between the Great Hall and the Court Room are shields depicting arms of prominent families of Northamptonshire.

The Great Hall, Northampton Guildhall

The Great Hall

The Great Hall ceiling is richly decorated with arms of the counties. The stained glass windows are by John Milner and were displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum before being installed in the Guildhall.

Around the walls are words from psalm 115 "Non Nobis Domine". This was the tag used by Edward Godwin to sign his architectural plans.

The murals are of prominent persons who have influenced Northampton's history and were painted by Colin Gill of the Royal College of Art. Those included in the murals are:

  • Alfred the Great
  • Simon de Senlis
  • Edward I with Queen Eleanor
  • Richard II
  • Henry VI
  • Lawrence Washington (Lawrence was mayor of Northampton twice and an ancestor of George Washington)
  • Charles I
  • Oliver Cromwell
  • Philip Doddridge D.D
  • William Carey
  • Spencer Percival

Last updated 09 August 2023