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Guildhall (Town Hall)

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).

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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.

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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 and parties.

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.