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Guildhall Main Chamber set up for a Mayor Making Ceremony with bunting and flags and the town silver.

The Town Council's Heritage Offer

The Heritage Committee are currently reviewing the Town Council’s Heritage offer. Covid 19 has highlighted our need to adapt and change what we currently offer and we hope to be able to discuss our plans with you soon. If you have any questions, please contact the Heritage Team at  heritage@barnstapletowncouncil.gov.uk.

A Brief History of the Guildhall

Guildhall Main Chamber set up for a meeting.

The Main Chamber 

The main chamber in the Guildhall was once a courtroom, evident in its layout even today. It’s used today for council meetings, community events, private hire and is licenced for weddings. Two major events which take place every year in the Guildhall is the Mayor Making ceremony and the Fair Proclamation. What draws the eye most in this room is the oil paintings which cover most of the walls, some of which were painted by the famous painter Thomas Hudson (1701-72). Pictures include William Rock, Barnstaple benefactor, and John Gay, an 18th-century poet and playwright who was born in the town.

The collection of paintings at the Guildhall can now be viewed online at the “Your Paintings website.

Your Paintings is a joint initiative between the BBC, the Public Catalogue Foundation (a registered charity) and participating collections and museums from across the UK.

Example layout in the Dodderidge Room, a more intimate setting with rows of seating in front of a table.

The Dodderidge Room

The Dodderidge room is one of Barnstaple’s hidden treasures, it holds the town silver and many fascinating relics of Barnstaple’s past. The oak panelling and fireplace were a gift to the town council and came from a wealthy merchant’s house, Pentecost Dodderidge, whom the room is named after.

Fireplace – This fireplace was ‘discovered’ when a house in Cross Street was demolished in 1910. After being moved to another house in the town it came here as a gift, along with the oak panelling, from Alderman John Smale in 1949. The top feature dates from 1617 and incorporates the initials PD and ED. The PD is Pentecost Dodderidge and the ED is the initials of his wife Elizabeth. 1617 was not the date of their marriage. The main fireplace is older than the top feature and, we are told, was probably carved in London or possibly Spain. The top feature was undoubtedly carved locally. The Dodderidge family was one of the leading families in Barnstaple for many years; they were merchants, judges, mayors and councillors.

The Mayor's Parlour looking towards the fireplace.

The Mayor’s Parlour

The Mayor’s Parlour is a functioning office, used by the Town Mayor for civic receptions and meetings. The room hosts a range of historic artefacts including fine examples of Brannam pottery, and a US flag that once flew at the Capitol Building in Washington, a gift from our twin town of Barnstable, Massachusetts.

On the walls you will find rolls of honour detailing Barnstaple’s past Mayors, and a range of pictures and other artefacts celebrating our twin towns and our links with the Royal Family.

Available for Hire

The Guildhall is available for hire. You can hire the space for an event, function or we are licenced for weddings.

For more information please visit our venues page.