The Guildhall today is the fourth such building within the City of Salisbury.
The first Guildhall dates back to medieval times, when it was known as “The Bishop’s Guildhall”. At that time the building was under the control of the Bishop who exercised his feudal rights of criminal and civil justice.
The Merchants Guild built a new headquarters called “The Council House” to the north of the Bishop’s Guildhall, near to where the present War Memorial stands.
The Council House burnt down after a banquet. The second Earl of Radnor provided for a new building at his own expense. At the same time the opportunity was taken to clear up The Bishop’s Guildhall which had fallen into disrepair and was in ruinous condition with the Bishop unable to afford its upkeep.
An Act of Parliament was passed providing for the surrender of the Bishop’s rights to the Guildhall on the condition that a new City jail would be provided.
The new Guildhall
The new Guildhall was built on the site of the old one. Alterations were then made to the building in 1829 which included the addition of the Grand Jury Room, extensions to the courts and new accommodation for the judges. Since that date, other alterations have been made, including extensive internal alterations. Since 1835 the building has been under the control of local government and is now managed by Salisbury City Council.
In 2010-2011 there was a further major refurbishment. Changes were made to improve public access to the building, to bring further rooms into public use and to do necessary maintenance and repairs. Following this refurbishment, the building became the home of Salisbury City Council, with offices in the upper floors and council meetings held in the principal rooms.
Guildhall Paintings and Artifacts