A Town Hall is recorded in Cheapside in 1596, although the Hanging Chapel was used as the town hall for some years afterwards. Their 1616 charter gave the Corporation the power to ‘have, retain, and erect a council house’, and this may have caused them to return to the hall in Cheapside. The Corporation silver-gilt mace, which is 14 inches long, is thought to date from 1625-1649.
The present Town Hall was erected in 1732, and presumably completed in 1733, which is the date displayed in the weathervane on the top of the building. This makes it the oldest Town Hall in the West Country to be in continuous council use. It was formerly the home of a county court. Markets were held in the undercroft for many years, and the fire engine was stored there in 1925. Adjoining the original Town Hall building, but now part of it, was the Institute, built in 1833, which included a reading room and library, as well as rooms for playing cards, billiards and bagatelle. Both are Grade 2 listed buildings.
The Town Hall has an unusual octagonal clock. Behind the building lies a garden, now called the Walter Bagehot Town Garden.
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