History

A HALL FOR ALL OCCASIONS!

Torrington Town Hall has been restored to its former magnificent glory and opened to the public on 1st April 2019

For centuries Torrington Town Hall, and the Guildhall which preceded it on the same site, was the civic, judicial, commercial and social hub of the ancient borough of Great Torrington and district.  It was the backdrop for a host of important events and celebrations as well as the seat of justice.  However, when the magistrates’ court was closed in 1968 it began to gradually lose impetus so that in the early 1990’s there was public demand to bring it back to its former glory.

The Great Torrington Buildings Preservation Trust was set up in 2003 and were charged with raising the funding and supervising the restoration work.  During the next decade, funding was secured from many sources both nationally and locally including local schoolchildren and Community Groups who wished to see the building back in use. Over the past two years the final push for funding was achieved with major grant funding from the Big Lottery Community Fund and Leader5.

Dr Harry Cramp, former chair of the Great Torrington Buildings Preservation Trust and current chair, Richard Rumbold both firmly believe that the magnificently restored Town Hall will improve the viability of the market town of Torrington and increase footfall, much needed in today’s current economic climate as well as providing opportunities for the townsfolk to enjoy many of the local events that are planned for the future.

The Hall which is being hailed as one of grandest and most majestic buildings in North Devon now has some stunning and practical rooms available for hire. Although steeped in history the recent refurbishments have created a truly beautiful and unique balance of the old and new coming together in the most quintessential way.

The Great Hall, houses an historic art collection of local and national interest and is a perfect setting for weddings, receptions, parties and corporate events.  An imposing stair case leads to the oak-panelled, Oak Room which is fully licensed for wedding ceremonies and civil partnerships.  A sophisticated galleried room which is adjoined to the Great Hall can be used for reception, pre-dinner drinks, buffet etc, A glass fronted Under Croft looks out onto the centre of the town, an ideal space for community fundraising events, pop-up shops, exhibitions, food and craft fairs.  A fully appointed commercial catering kitchen with a full stock of white ware, glasses, cutlery is available for all types of functions.

In less than six months of opening the Torrington Town Hall has hosted wedding, anniversary parties, Women’s Institution group meeting quizzes and will be holding a Festival of Festival Voices in March 2020.  Guests to the Festival include authors, Lesley Pearse, Kit de Waal and Lezanne Clanachan

FIVE THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT GREAT TORRINGTON TOWN & COMMUNITY HALL

  • Civic records and documents were destroyed in a serious fire in July 1724 so there is no knowledge of its appearance before that date. The building as we see it today dates from 1861 and is grade 2 listed.
  • On 6th July 1645, a few months before the Battle of Great Torrington, the mutineer Henry Boose was hanged beside the pillory at the guildhall on the orders of the Royalist commander General Lord Goring, then stationed in this town. After the battle the following February Hugh Peters, chaplain the New Model Army, preached from the balcony because the church had been blown up when an 80 barrel gunpowder store was ignited
  • There was a holding gaol under the building and three of the heavy studded doors are still held by the Museum Society. Convicted prisoners were sent to Exeter. Stocks were in regular use, but the pillory was abolished in 1837. Until the late 17th century a form of restraint and torment known as ‘the cage’ was in place in the Under Croft where some offenders, especially the simple-minded, were incarcerated. This cruel practice was peculiar only to Barnstaple, Ottery St. Mary and Torrington.
  • The building was partially re-built for a cost of £400 in 1761 and the cost was equally shared by the Town Lands Trustees and the Town Council who, at that time, took joint responsibility for its up-keep.  The new foundation stone was laid by Mr John Rolle Walter of Stevenstone and Bicton in his capacity as Recorder for Torrington. A photographic facsimile of his portrait by Pompeo Batoni now hangs in the Oak Room
  • A collection of historic paintings that once belonged to the Hon. Mark Rolle before being transferred to the custody of the Clinton Estate now hang in the Oak Room, Long Room and Great Hall.

We can accommodate most events and come up with tailor-made package to fit your needs. Call in or ring Anne Tattersall on 0797 1696192

Mystery Donor

Mystery Donor

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Portraits

Portraits

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Original Construction

Original Construction

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Before The Renovations

Before The Renovations

Great Torrington Town Hall dominates the centre of the town and was for several centuries the hub of the civic, social and judicial life of this ancient…