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About Beverley Guildhall

History of the building

In 1501, the Beverley Town Keepers purchased the original building on this site for use as a Guildhall, a meeting place for the town’s leading citizens, in which civic business was conducted. Original timbers, dating back to the early 15th century when the building was a medieval open hall, were recently uncovered in two of the rooms.

In 1762, local builder William Middleton created a magnificent Courtroom decorated with a stucco ceiling created by the Swiss-Italian stuccoist Giuseppe Cortese. An imposing façade, modelled on the Greek temple of Apollo at Delos, was added in 1832 by Hull architect Charles Mountain the Younger.

Much of the original 17th and 18th century furniture commissioned by the town Corporation can still be seen, including a unique Mayoral “bink” (local dialect for “bench”) dating from 1604 in the Magistrate's Room.

A more detailed history and description of the building is available in this downloadable fact sheet.

The Guildhall, Beverley (382kb pdf opens in new window)

On display

Upstairs in the elegant Parlour, there is a collection of civic silver donated to the Corporation over the years. The silver collection includes two ceremonial chains worn by the town Waits ('Mayor's Minstrels'), which are on permanent display in the community museum. Beverley's waits' chains, which date from 1423, are among the oldest in England.

Paintings by the renowned local artist Fred Elwell, R.A., depicting town life and local characters from the first half of the 20th century, are displayed throughout the building.

The Guildhall also houses the Beverley Community Museum, with displays about Beverley’s history in a programme of temporary exhibitions in one room, and objects and images loaned and donated by the people of Beverley in a separate room. Here there is a computer archive of over 2000 historic photographs of Beverley, which visitors are able to search and add images with the help of the attendants.