DescriptionThe Guild Hall was the building previously on the site of the current Town Hall the below is an extract from the history of this building. Due to this being pre the age of photography the guild hall only exists in drawings and paintings some of which are in the possession of the Town Council.
The Charter of King James I of November 28th 1612, which gives permission to build a town hall in Wokingham, indicates that Wokingham did not have a town hall at that time. However charters were often carelessly written and quite often gave permission to build something that had been in existence for several years.
Various drawings of the Guildhall show that it stood on arcades of oak pillars in the Market Place with the ground floor open to the streets on three sides.
The stocks and pillory stood on one side facing the street and on the ground floor was a single prison cell, commonly referred to as the "dark hole", which had a heavily barred window about 18 inches square. The ground floor also accommodated the market.
On the east side there was an outside staircase and a platform leading into the hall, which was a timber framed structure, the space between the larger timber being filled by a framework of smaller timber. This was covered with lath and plaster and whitewashed.
The first floor was used for court sessions and events including dances and plays. There was also a small room for meetings of the corporation and an attic in the roof.
A drawing made in 1763 shows a single-handed clock inserted in one of the walls of the Guildhall and another , drawn in 1832, depicts a two-handed clock located in the clock tower. Possibly the latter was the one installed in the new Town Hall during construction and replaced in November 1866. The 1832 print was the work of W. A. Delamott, Junior of Sandhurst, The view was described as taken "from Mr Johnson's", who was probably the tinman and glazier of Peach Street.
In the early 19th century the Guildhall had become so dilapidated that substantial repairs were required. As the Corporation lacked the necessary funding a public appeal was made. Unfortunately the sum subscribed was a fraction of the total bill of £ 1,160 and the balance was made up by members of the Corporation who were repaid in instalments.
Despite further repairs and modifications to the building, eventually in 1858, an eminent architect reported that further repairs to the Guildhall would be a waste of money. A new Town Hall was propose and on the 18th September 1858 a Farewell Ball was organized by the Wokingham Cricket Club and held in the old town hall. The guests included some ninety of the principle inhabitants of the town and several officers of the 36th Regiment of Aldershot. Dancing was reported to have been maintained "with untiring enjoyment" until 4:00 o'clock on the following morning.
SourceMemories of Wokingham Town Hall 1860 to 1946, by Jim Bell
"Mainly About Berkshire" By Mercurius.
“Wokingham Guildhall ,” Wokingham's Virtual Museum, accessed August 15, 2020, https://wokingham-tc.gov.uk/museum/document/WTH0219.