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Tyne and Wear HER(4874): Newcastle, Sandhill, Guildhall - Details

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Newcastle, Sandhill, Guildhall




Meeting Hall


Post Medieval


Extant Building

The present guildhall was built on the site of the medieval town hall. Complex building. The east end is chiefly a neo-Grecian remodelling of a medieval building, by Dobson 1823-5. The main structure was built in 1655-8 by Robert Trollope from York, but was given a conventional classical north front in 1794-6 by David Stephenson and William Newton. They replaced the Gothic stair tower with a pedimented entrance front. A classical south front was added in 1809 by John and William Stokoe. King John granted Newcastle Guild Merchant in 1216, and the first reference to a guildhall occurs in 1400. In 1425 Roger Thornton endowed the Hospital of St Catherine, soon to be known as the Maison Dieu (see HER 4871), which he had built at the east end of the Guildhall. The town's accounts mention building the 'new house' in 1509. Grey, writing in 1639, said this was the place where the town's revenues were received, that it was above a weigh house, next to the Maison Dieu, and that the Merchant Venturer's court was above the Maison Dieu. This group of buildings can be seen in the bird's eye view of the town drawn c.1590. In 1655 the Town Council ordered a new town court to be built. Robert Trollope, a mason from York, won the contract and the work was finished by 1660. Buck's view published in 1745 shows the river front with the Merchants' Court a crenellated tower and the Town Court Trollope's long hall with round turrets at each end. What we see today and now know collectively as the Guildhall is the result of these alterations to the western part, and of alterations and an extension by Dobson in 1823-5 to the old Maison Dieu and Merchants' Court at the east end. In a niche on the stairs there is lead statue of Charles II dated to around 1660, maybe by William Larson. The mayor's parlour includes branch motif plasterwork of 1658 and elsewhere there is strapwork plasterwork of the 1680s. An overmantel is carved with biblical and mythical scenes. Conservation Plan - the original layout of the ground floor main block is not known. It is possible that ground levels were not as seen today. The floor was lowered when the main entrance was moved from the north side to the south in 1898. Before c.1880 there were two entrances, both on the north side. The ground floor had a raised timber floor with under-floor heating ducts, so it was raised above the south side pavement. In 1898 the floor was lowered in bays 1-6 to match the south side. Bay 7 remained at the higher level so three steps had to be inserted across the full width of the ground floor. The early floor layout may survive under bay 7. At the west end of the ground floor, the current boiler room was the site of an external urinal. Thicker walls and nibs in the boiler room were once the external face of the building. The early narrow stairs to the mezzanine were replaced in 1898 by a new timber staircase. The larger south-facing room was a writing room, became a scullery in 1910 and around 1966 a kitchen. The smaller north-facing room became a telephone room, and around 1966, a bar. These works were to create a banqueting hall. The earliest depiction of the mezzanine in 1867 shows a single room reached by the narrow staircase, with windows on all sides, including two narrow toilet windows. More toilets were inserted around 1880. In 1898 the mezzanine was divided into two rooms like the floor beneath. The south room became the chamber of commerce once the toilets were removed. The smaller north room was a 'private room', an office by 1910. It was later extended out over an inserted floor in the curved west end of the north aisle (this alteration was removed by 1962). Around 1966 both mezzanine rooms were converted into a Judges Suite for the Court above. A new staircase was inserted up to the back of the Court on the first floor and the Gallery on the second. The first floor is divided lengthwise in two. The southern two0thirds contain the double-height Guildhall and Court. The northern thir




<< HER 4874 >> N. Pevsner and I. Richmond, second edition revised by G. McCombie, P. Ryder and H. Welfare, 1992, The Buildings of England: Northumberland, p 443-445 J.R. Boyle, 1890, Vestiges of old Newcastle and Gateshead, p 12-26; W. Collard and M. Ross, 1842, Architectural and Picturesque Views in Newcastle upon Tyne, pp 28-32; Paul Usherwood, Jeremy Beach and Catherine Morris, 2000, Public Sculpture of North East England, p 137-8; Brenda Whitelock, 1992, Timepieces of Newcastle, p 28; Thomas Oliver, 1844, Historical and Descriptive Reference to the Public Buildings on the Plan of the Borough of Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead; Grace McCombie, 2009, Newcastle and Gateshead, pages 10, 11 and 15, 70-75; North of England Civic Trust, June 2005, Guildhall, Newcastle upon Tyne, Conservation Plan; Grace McCombie, Feb 2005, The Guildhall, Newcastle upon Tyne - An architectural-historical assessment of the area affected by Phase 1 of the proposed Tourist Information Centre; the 1774 Stephenson and Newton plans are believed to be in Tyne and Wear Archives;

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