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©  John Boothroyd ARPS

IoE Number: 483446
Location: TOWN HALL, MARKET PLACE (south side)
  WELLS, MENDIP, SOMERSET
Photographer: John Boothroyd ARPS
Date Photographed: 23 April 2001
Date listed: 12 November 1953
Date of last amendment: 12 November 1953
Grade II

The Images of England website consists of images of listed buildings based on the statutory list as it was in 2001 and does not incorporate subsequent amendments to the list. For the statutory list and information on the current listed status of individual buildings please go to The National Heritage List for England.

WELLS ST5445 MARKET PLACE 662-1/7/165 (South side) 12/11/53 Town Hall GV II Town Hall, with magistrates courts and other offices. 1779, with extension of 1907 and 1932/33. Ashlar stone facade, rubble stone extension, English garden wall brickwork to rear wing, hipped Welsh slate roofs, ashlar chimney stacks. PLAN: entrance hall flanked by Court Room and lesser rooms, through screen and stair to main Hall at first floor; long rear wing including cells. EXTERIOR: 2 storeys with attics to centre, 9 bays, with a 2-bay forwards projection of 1907 for the 3 centre bays. In a classical style. Plinth, rusticated piers and quoins to centre unit, band course between floors, shallow parapet. All ground floor originally arcaded with open semicircular arches, now filled with doors and glazing along line of original facade, large 12-pane sash windows to first floor. Central projection to match, but open at ground floor level, and central bay first floor has french doors opening to large stone balcony with balustrading, carried on very large scrolled brackets; at attic level 3 circular windows, in bolection mould architraves with keystones, pediment over with thin garlands and city coat of arms. The 3 oculi and the balcony are work of the 1932 alterations. Matching 2-bay extension to right. East return of 3 bays has ashlar on ground floor only, with arcading, 2 bays with paned french windows and fanlights, and one with fanlight only. Extension to rear of 1907; 2 storeys and 10 bays, with 7 plain sash and 3 smaller lights to first floor above 9 barred cell windows, including a door below window 6, and a further doorway to the right. This unit with hipped slate roof. INTERIOR: entrance hall has 2 unfluted Doric columns on pedestals carrying longitudinal beams and 2 transverse deep square beams, probably inserted later; to each side, through paired arches, is a heavily detailed stone staircase with raked square balusters. Main stair, of C20, is through three arches, to 8 wide steps, through a further screen wall to the principal staircase returning towards the front. Main hall has dado rail, modillion cornice, but this not carried through to end bay, with proscenium arch having panelled reveals and soffit. On the W side are 2 fireplaces with bolection mould surrounds, and four 6-panel doors in raised moulded architraves, and with panelled linings; at the far (S) end are two 6-panel doors under sloping heads and with panelled linings, below three 12-pane sashes (but top sash pivoted). The ceiling has a central rosette and 4 circular cast-iron vents. The Court Room has a circular central ventilator; fittings are late C20. HISTORICAL NOTE: built by public subscription on the site of the Canonical House also known as 'The Exchequer', on the authority of an Act of Parliament dated 1779, this replaced an earlier structure nearer the centre of the Market Place '... supported by stone columns, and over it a large room for transacting the public business of the borough...' which was by this time in a ruinous state. The last Assize Court was held here in 1970. A plaque on the front of the Town Hall records some of the building dates and information. (Buildings of England: Pevsner N: North Somerset and Bristol: London: 1958-: 325; Bailey S: Canonical Houses of Wells: Gloucester: 1982-: 156).

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