Northampton's Guildhall is a remarkable
building of the victorian gothic style. Completed in 1864
and opened on the 17th of May of the same year, it has
stone carvings around its facade that depict the history
and life of Northampton's inhabitants, including the
cobblers trade. Fourteen statues stand high above the
street under their canopies, one between each first floor
window. Many are of Monarchs and famous people who have
had close ties with the town. Also represented are the
patron saints of England, Scotland and Ireland, and the
patron saint of corporations, St Michael, who can also be
seen standing on the peak of the gable above the town's
coat of arms.
The decoration of the pillars supporting each statue is also worth examining for small carvings connected with the statue above: for example, the capital of the pillar supporting Richard I depicts the legend of Blondel the minstrel. For those with binoculars, illustrations of some of Aesop's fables can be seen carved on the capitals of the first floor window jambs. Below them, on the large piers between the ground floor windows are illustrations of Northampton life. In the arches of each ground floor window are sculptured scenes of historical events which took place in Northampton or within the County. The western entrance contains sculptured groups showing three Royal visits to the town - Queen Elizabeth I (1564), Charles I (1634) and Queen Victoria (1844).
Designed and built by Edward
Godwin of Bristol, it is the home of the borough council
and is Northamptons most opulent building. The building
stands upon the site of houses in St. Giles' Square,
which was for many years the property and residence of a
Dr. Robertson. Tours can be booked to view its interior.
Godwin designed the building to be symmetrical, and
complete with a Great Hall and Mayoral balcony, it is a
masterpiece with the 110ft high clock tower as the
centrpiece of his work. Sculptured groups in alto-relievo
are carved into the heads of the windows on the lower
floor. The upper story has seven windows of two
trefoil-headed-lights each, with a cinquefoil light in
the head of the arch. The central window has the mayoral
balcony in front and between each upper floor window, on
semi-pillars, stand eight statues with canopies over
them. The sloping roof of the Clock tower is finished
with a crest of lead.
Inside, it is vast with wide
staircase, galleries, stone carvings and the Council
Chamber. Its style is the Decorated Gothic, treated with
individuality and richness. Recently as 1992, a new
extension was added which is very sympathetic to Godwins
work. It still remains the seat of the council offices
and rooms can be hired for corporate functions, weddings
A plaque to commemorate Princess Diana has been added to the extension by her brother. The £4,000 bronze plaque has been designed by Clare Barber and Fay Rook, two students who won a competition organised by Northampton Borough Council. Princess Diana, whose family home and burial place is at Althorp in Northamptonshire, was made an honorary Freeman of the Borough in 1989.