Guildhall Open Weekend

February 16, 2019

The Guildhall reopened today after a major refurbishment. There were guided tours, or you could look round on your own and read the information sheets left in each room. A lot of people were taking the opportunity to visit, and it all looked fresh and interesting.
Guildhall Open Weekend
Coffee was being served in the Roysse Room. Quite a few people said they remembered coming to a wedding there. The  yellow ceiling with ornate white stucco, and white walls make this a bright room.

To show that it was once a schoolroom there was Greek on the balcony, and a birch rod in a case at the far end, donated by Old Abingdonian scholars.
Guildhall Open Weekend
The new lift between the entrance and Magistrates Court worked well, but did need somebody to help open and close the lift gates and so does not seem to allow for full independence.
Guildhall Open Weekend
The Magistrates Court looked fresh and tidy, and smelled of furniture polish. There was the sound of creaking floorboards from the room above. A table was in the centre so this, like two of the other rooms, was being shown as a meeting room. There was some talk of it being an exhibition space, also of audio visual equipment. I expect it will be multi-purpose.
Guildhall Open Weekend
Upstairs, beyond any wheelchair access, the Bear Room had a shine on the table reflecting the grand window onto Bridge Street. There were paintings round the walls donated by Arthur Preston, the local historian and Alderman who was involved when the Guildhall was refurbished a century ago. He had documented things such as a hidden spiral staircase that came as such a surprise this time round, and appeared in the Herald.
Guildhall Open Weekend
The council chamber, in two shades of green, had tables with cloths and floral decorations. The grand paintings were of Kings, and a Queen, and famous men with Abingdon connections. There was also a painting of Saint Sebastian being martyred.
Guildhall Open Weekend
The Abbey Room, over the Abbey Gateway, had also been decorated with paintings, including one of John Creemer Clarke.

The connecting room and toilets were very modern looking in comparison.

Somebody said to me ‘All the rooms looked good. Something Abingdon can be proud of.’ Another person said ‘The room hire rates are reasonable‘. Another person said ‘A signal day for Abingdon‘. I would add that the information and tours were well organised.

I only heard one complaint and that is that the Tourist Information is not in the Guildhall yet. There is no clear direction for tourists in Abingdon to go to the museum where it is housed.

Filed under: heritage

5 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. ppjs  |  February 16, 2019 at 8:18 pm

    If you would be a lover of learning,
    you should become a learner of many things.

  • 2. Backstreeter  |  February 16, 2019 at 11:44 pm

    your Greek is much better than mine

  • 3. chris  |  February 17, 2019 at 12:58 pm

    I found it was open quite by accident yesterday.
    The whole building looked really good.
    I hadn’t been in to all the rooms before. Even on heritage days not all the rooms had been open.
    I know the rooms were set up to attract events for the Guild hall. But if it helps to start generating money to pay for some of the refurbishment, then so much the better.

  • 4. Davidofluton  |  February 18, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    It’s a quote from Socrates. I would translate it “he who loves learning will be learned.”

  • 5. DavidofLuton  |  February 19, 2019 at 1:32 pm

    *the above should have read “he who loves learning will become learned”

    By the way the refurbishment of the Guildhall looks stunning.

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