Webpage created: July 14, 2017.
Webpage updated: July 14, 2017
GUILD HALLS OF OLD PLYMOUTH
The present Guild Hall in Royal Parade is believed to be Plymouth's fifth such building.
There was firstly an 'olde yelde hall' referred to in 1494 but nothing is known about it. Worth thought it had been somewhere in Old Town.
In 1440, following the incorporation of the Borough of Plymouth, a new Guild Hall was erected in the vicinity of Southside Street or Woolster Street. Worth records that a new front was put on it in 1515 and the great bell was bought by public subscription in 1560. There are some accounts in the City archives that appear to show that it was either rebuilt or a new one erected in its place in 1564/65.
The third such building was what has become known as the Jacobean Guild Hall. It was built in 1606/07 on a completely new site at the junction of High Street and Whimple Street.
The imposing Jacobean Guildhall.
That building was demolished in 1799 and the foundation stone laid of a new one designed by a Mr Evelegh or Eveleigh, of Bath. It was a triangular-shaped structure because of the triangular-shaped site and became so ridiculed that it became known as Evelegh's Guild Hall.
It was not long before Evelegh's Guild Hall was being described as 'Inconvenient as a Guildhall, unsuited as a mayoralty house, inadequate as a prison and absurd as a market' and eventually, in 1869, the Corporation invited designs for a brand new building in Bedford Street.
Thus what is the present Plymouth Guild Hall was opened in 1874 and in spite of being burnt out during the Plymouth Blitz of 1941 it continues to serve the City today.