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Title Guildhall
Description The 19th century Guildhall is the most iconic and recognisable building in the town centre. Built in a Gothic style between 1861 and 1864, it originally housed the council chamber, law courts, a police station, prison cells and a fire station.

Nowadays its functions remain civic and cultural, with rooms regularly used for weddings and private and corporate events. It is open to the public each weekday by prior appointment.

The Victorian Gothic structure was designed by Edward Godwin when he was only 28 years old. The original part, built between 1861 and 1864, is symmetrical with seven windows, and a clock tower at its centre.

There are 14 statues between the windows on the first floor, including one of Queen Victoria who visited Northampton with Prince Albert in 1844. The building is covered with carvings, including Illustrations of some of Aesop’s fables, scenes of Northampton life, and sculptures of historical events.

The Guildhall has been extended twice; the west wing in the same style as the original, between 1889 and 1892 by Matthew Holding, and a modern addition was made to the building’s east wing by Stimpson Walton Bond Architects in 1992. Two gargoyles on the gable end of the east wing building, bearing the faces of Maurice Walton and Alf Bond, serve as a lasting reminder of their work.

A cloistered walkway leads to a pleasant courtyard within this modern extension, offering a quiet space to sit while surrounded by notable figures from the town’s past, immortalised as bronze statues, including the Poet John Clare and Biologist Dr Francis Crick.

There is an impressive Great Hall within the original building, its walls decorated in 1925 by the First World War artist and mural painter, Colin Gill, showing representations of famous people connected with the town, including Alfred the Great, Simon de Senlis and Dr Philip Doddridge. The building also houses a former Court Room, with original prison cells and a morgue found in the eerie cellars below.

There are also murals of ‘The Muses Contemplating Northampton’, painted in 1949 by renowned local artist Henry Bird, while the beautiful stained-glass windows on the landing of the main staircase show scenes from Tennyson’s ‘Idylls of the King’ poems.

The former Council Chamber, today known as the Godwin Room, contains original furniture designed by Godwin, and the building’s foundation stone, laid in 1861, sits above the fireplace. As the Council grew, a much larger chamber was built further along the corridor, where full council meetings are still held each month.

Also of note is the Mayor’s Corridor, which displays the most comprehensive collection of Mayoral portraits in the country, dating from 1858 to the present day, and the Mayor’s Name Gallery, which contains hundreds of small wooden shields inscribed with the names of each Mayor of Northampton since 1215.

Sir Francis Chantry’s imposing marble statue of the Northampton MP Spencer Perceval - the only UK Prime Minister to be assassinated in office - adds to the character of this fine building and can be found in the modern foyer off the cloistered walkway.