Winchester Guildhall

Historic Building and Tourist Office in Winchester

Winchester New Guidhall
CC BY-SA 2.0 / David Pearson

The location of the new Guildhall was previously occupied by St Mary’s Abbey and came under crown control during the dissolution of the monasteries in the late 1530s. As a gesture of gratitude for the city’s support in her marriage to King Philip of Spain in 1554, Queen Mary gifted the site to the City of Salisbury.

On 22 December 1871, Viscount Eversley, the former Speaker of the House of Commons, laid the foundation stone for the new building. Designed in the Gothic Revival style by Jeffery and Skiller and constructed by Joseph Bull & Sons, the building featured a central section with a flight of steps leading to an arcaded entrance on the first floor. The second floor boasted three mullion windows and a tall clock tower flanked by angle pavilions. The tower housed a quarter-chiming clock by Gillett & Bland. At the second-floor level, statues of local historical figures were placed on the front of the building. The Lord Chancellor, Earl of Selborne, officially opened the Guildhall on 18 May 1873.

In 1893, an extension designed by John Colson was added to the west of the original building. This extension created a new banqueting facility, later named the King Charles Room. Despite the formation of the enlarged City of Winchester in 1974, the guildhall remained the meeting place of the municipal borough and continued to serve as the local seat of government.

In June 2009, with financial support from a legacy left by the Marchioness of Winchester, a large room in the guildhall underwent extensive refurbishment. The legacy stipulated the construction of a public hall in her honor, featuring a full-length portrait of her. The room was subsequently renamed the Bapsy Room, and a magnificent portrait of the Marchioness in her state robes, painted by Frank Salisbury, was prominently displayed.

During the restoration of a portrait of King Charles I in the King Charles Room in 2017, it was discovered that the original painting depicted Henry Jermyn, 1st Earl of St Albans, by Peter Lely. Another painter had over-painted the image with that of the King. The King Charles Room also houses additional notable paintings, including a portrait of King Charles II by Peter Lely and a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Edward Halliday. Furthermore, in the stairwell, there is a painting by Thomas Stewardson depicting the children of Charles Paulet, 13th Marquess of Winchester.

The Winchester Guildhall appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Winchester!

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Visiting Winchester Guildhall

Address: Guildhall Winchester, The Broadway, Winchester, UK
Duration: 20 minutes

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