Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead

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    Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead
    The Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead.jpg
    Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead
    LocationHigh Street, Hemel Hempstead
    Coordinates51°45′33″N 0°28′20″W / 51.7591°N 0.4721°W / 51.7591; -0.4721Coordinates: 51°45′33″N 0°28′20″W / 51.7591°N 0.4721°W / 51.7591; -0.4721
    ArchitectGeorge Low
    Architectural style(s)Jacobean style
    Listed Building – Grade II
    Official nameTown Hall
    Designated17 February 1977
    Reference no.1342196
    Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead is located in Hertfordshire
    Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead
    Shown in Hertfordshire

    The Old Town Hall is a municipal building in the High Street, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England. The town hall, which was the meeting place of Hemel Hempstead Borough Council, is a Grade II listed building.[1]


    Detail of the arcading on the ground floor of the corn exchange

    A market place was established in the old town under a charter awarded by Henry VIII in 1539.[2] By the early 19th century the market hall took the form of a long range of corn lofts, which stood on pillars, so that markets could be held underneath.[3] A courtroom was established at the north end and a town hall was erected at the centre of the structure in 1825.[3][4]

    After the market hall became dilapidated, civic leaders decided to demolish the old building in sections: the central and north sections of the old structure were demolished in 1851.[3] The new building (the central section of the current structure) was designed by George Low in the Jacobean style, built with red brick and stone dressings and completed later that year.[1] The design involved a symmetrical main frontage with five bays facing onto the High Street; the middle bay featured a portico with Corinthian order columns supporting a balcony and a bay window on the first floor with a gable above.[1]

    The new building was extended to the north along the High Street, with arcading on the ground floor, to create a corn exchange in 1861.[1] The remaining (southern) section of the old structure was demolished and the new building was extended to the south along the High Street, with a four-stage tower which included an octagonal upper stage, to create municipal offices in 1868.[1]

    Following the acquisition of part of the St Mary's Churchyard, the market place was extended in 1888.[3] This was recorded by a stone plaque on the front of the building, which stated "Bailiwick of Hemel Hempstead: this market place was formed and these buildings erected by the Bailiff and the Town Improvement Committee AD 1888."[5]

    After population growth, in part associated with the opening of Boxmoor Railway Station on the London and Birmingham Railway in 1837 and of Hemel Hempsted railway station on the Nickey line in 1877, the area became a municipal borough, with the town hall as its headquarters, in 1898.[6] The town hall continued to serve as the headquarters of the local municipal borough council for much of the 20th century but ceased to be the local seat of government after a new civic centre, designed by Clifford Culpin and Partners, was completed in 1966.[7][8][a] Instead the town hall was used for theatre performances from 1978 and was refurbished for use as an arts centre in 1986.[10][11]


    1. ^ The civic centre subsequently became the home of Dacorum Borough Council when it was formed in 1974.[9]


    1. ^ a b c d e Historic England. "Town Hall (1342196)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
    2. ^ "Revelations of life in Hemel Hempstead in Tudor Times". Dacorum Heritage Trust. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
    3. ^ a b c d Page, William (1908). "'Parishes: Hemel Hempstead', in A History of the County of Hertford". London: British History Online. pp. 215–230. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
    4. ^ "The 'extraordinary' market that put Hemel Hempstead on the map". Dacorum Heritage Trust. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
    5. ^ "Hemel Hempstead Old Town". Hertfordshire Memories. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
    6. ^ "Hemel Hempstead MB". Vision of Britain. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
    7. ^ "Dacorum Town Hall". New Town Herts. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
    8. ^ "Civic Centre, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire". Royal Institute of British Architects. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
    9. ^ Local Government Act 1972. 1972 c.70. The Stationery Office Ltd. 1997. ISBN 0-10-547072-4.
    10. ^ "History". Old Town Hall. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
    11. ^ "The Old Town Hall". Theatres Trust. Retrieved 1 February 2021.