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HER Number:MDV75540
Name:Town Hall, Bideford


The rear part of the Town Hall was built in 1850 and the front part was built in 1905, at the same time as adjacent public library. Designed in early Tudor style, with some mullioned and transomed windows, octagonal turrets and a battlemented parapet.


Grid Reference:SS 454 264
Map Sheet:SS42NE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBideford
Ecclesiastical ParishBIDEFORD

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old Listed Building Ref (II): 375905

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • TOWN HALL (XIX to XX - 1850 AD to 1905 AD (Between))

Full description

Granville, R., 1883, History of Bideford, 99, 102 (Unknown). SDV350087.

Department of National Heritage, 19/04/1993, Bideford, 194-5 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV338459.

Formerly listed separately as 'New Road Town Hall'. Town Hall and Public Library. Rear part of Town Hall was built in 1850 by R.D Gould of Barnstaple with builder E.M White of Bideford. The front part and library were built in 1905 by Alfred Dunn of Birmingham. Red brick with limestone detailing on squared stone rubble and ashlar bases; some coursed stone rubble in the less important parts of the rear elevation. Slate roof; 1850 section with crested buff ridge-tiles. On the original east gable-end of this section is a stone chimney with 3 octagonal shafts having crenellated tops. Plan: roughly L-shaped, with Gould's Town Hall, containing the court room on its upper floor, facing Bridge Street and Dunn's town hall on the New Road side containing the council chamber and mayor's room on the upper floor. The present entrance is under Gould's building, leading to the 1905 main staircase at the rear. The library lies at the south end of the New Road frontage. Two storeys, except for single-storeyed library. Designed in early Tudor style, Dunn's work matching closely with Gould's. The latter's building is 4 windows wide with simple paired Tudor-arched windows in the ground storey. Upper storey has taller mullioned-and-transomed windows with traceried heads; above them a battlemented parapet. All windows have patterned leaded glazing. Between the windows in both storeys are buttresses with offsets, these finished with diagonally-set, crenellated pinnacles which rise above the parapet. On the splayed corner with Church Walk is an octagonal stone bell-turret with 2 tiers of trefoil-headed openings and a battlemented parapet. Lower down is an old stone coat-of-arms, probably taken from another building, flanked by a lion and a unicorn. Main elevation to Church Walk has a 4-light mullioned-and-transomed window similar in style to those facing Bridge Street but with 4 lozenges in place of a transom, each containing a quatrefoil and a shield. To the right of it is a 2-storeyed oriel window with Tudor-arched lights, and in the ground storey a segmental-headed doorway with MAGISTRATES ROOM painted on it in gold letters. On the south gable-end is a small stone tablet carved with an architect's compasses and set-square and initials 'R G' . Dunn's extension continues Gould's design with 2 further bays, except that the windows have square lead lights. There are 2 rainwater-heads dated 1905. On the splayed corner with New Road is a turret similar to Gould's but with a crocketed dome in place of a parapet. At first-floor level, opening off the council chamber, is a corbelled stone balcony with a balustrade of open trefoil-headed panels. Below it is incised ALFRED DUNN, A.R.I.B.A., ARCHITECT, BIRMINGHAM and H. GLOVER & SON, BUILDERS, BIDEFORD. The gable-end to New Road has a 5-light canted, mullioned-and-transomed oriel in Gould's style, but with cinquefoil-headed panels below and quatrefoil ones above. Flanking it are 2 segmental-headed windows, each of 2 mullioned-and-transomed lights, the latter with cinquefoiled heads. To the left is a 4-storeyed entrance-tower, now serving only the library. It has massive battered buttresses and a tall battlemented parapet. On top is an octagonal turret with a patterned leaded base, the upper part with open trefoil-headed arches and an ogee leaded roof; set diagonally to the tower are 4 flying buttresses with crocketed pinnacles. The library is designed after the manner of a medieval hall with 3 mullioned and double-transomed windows, each of 3 Tudor-arched lights. The middle window is flanked by buttresses matching Gould's and above it, under a segmental-headed parapet, is a stone tablet inscribed FREE LIBRARY. At the left-hand end is a gabled projection containing a canted bay window similar to the other 3. On its parapet is a shield carved with the date 1905.
Interior: Gould's Courtroom has panelled rostrum at west end flanked by enclosed stair turrets; that to left has wooden open-well stair with thin chamfered balusters and newels. Turrets linked above rostrum by an open gallery with a patterned iron railing. The other 3 sides of room have open galleries on octagonal iron columns with fluting on the upper parts; wooden rails with turned balusters and newels. Fixed wooden benches, possibly original, under rear gallery and in the galleries themselves. Cambered panelled ceiling with moulded beams and flower-bosses. Dunn's Council Chamber is panelled with ceiling similar to that in Courtroom; original furniture with 1751 bell from the Old Bridge Hall. Main staircase probably of concrete; open-well with iron balusters, alternately thin square and turned ones, and scrolled newels. Library has an open timber roof.

Christie, P., 1985, In Retrospect (Article in Serial). SDV126107.

If we begin at the end of the Bridge by the Town Hall we can see some of this history for ourselves. The site of the Hall was apparently used by Sir Richard Grenville for is town house in the 16th century and it was through his efforts that Bideford managed to obtain borough status. The Town Hall itself was built in two phases . The back half, near the churchyard was opened in 1851 and was designed by R Gould of Barnstaple. He was a prominent Freemason and his initials can be seen on the back wall. The building originally housed the police station with its four cells, a fire engine house, a magistrates court and a council chamber. The second half dates from 1906 and replaced Hogg's chemist shop, which once stood on the corner.

Torridge District Council, 2003, Bideford Townscape Heritage Initiative Stage 2 Bid (Un-published). SDV345899.

Rushton, N., 2006, River Torridge Pipeline, Bideford, Devon: Rapid Archaeological Appraisal, 7, 14 (Report - Interim). SDV342463.

WA 66.

Torridge District Council, 2009, Bideford Conservation Area Appraisal, 14 (Report - non-specific). SDV351295.

Unknown, 2011, Thieves Steal Lead from Bideford's Listed Town Hall (Website). SDV348312.

Lead and lead flashing was stripped from the roof, and slates were damaged.

Ordnance Survey, 2012, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV348725.

Map based on this object.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV126107Article in Serial: Christie, P.. 1985. In Retrospect. The Gazette. Cutting + Digital.
SDV338459List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of National Heritage. 19/04/1993. Bideford. Historic Houses Register. A4 Comb Bound. 194-5.
SDV342463Report - Interim: Rushton, N.. 2006. River Torridge Pipeline, Bideford, Devon: Rapid Archaeological Appraisal. Wessex Archaeology Report. 62220.01. A4 Stapled. 7, 14.
SDV345899Un-published: Torridge District Council. 2003. Bideford Townscape Heritage Initiative Stage 2 Bid. Torridge District Council Report. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV348312Website: Unknown. 2011. Thieves Steal Lead from Bideford's Listed Town Hall. www.bbc.co.uk. Website.
SDV348725Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2012. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital).
SDV350087Unknown: Granville, R.. 1883. History of Bideford. 99, 102.
SDV351295Report - non-specific: Torridge District Council. 2009. Bideford Conservation Area Appraisal. Torridge District Council Planning Guidance. Digital. 14.

Associated Monuments

MDV75539Related to: Public Library, Bideford (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV4517 - Archaeological Appraisal of River Torridge Pipeline Routes, Bideford, Devon

Date Last Edited:Jul 11 2018 11:38AM