The Town Hall is situated above the Parish Church's South Porch. It has a polished wood floor and a small kitchen leading off a narrow balcony. There is seating for around fifty people as the space is slightly limited but it is lovely venue with great historical atmosphere.
The Town Hall has served a range of uses over its long history. These include a school room, lodgings (for the church sexton and his family in the days of Elizabeth I and Charles I), a muniment room (store for historical documents), civil court, meeting place and the Town Hall from 1671 until 1899.
Whilst physically attached to the Grade I listed parish church of St John Baptist, it has always been a secular building as opposed to a place of worship, although the vicar and the churchwardens have been responsible for its repair and upkeep since 1672.
The best documented period of the building’s history spans its use as a civil court from 1672 through to 1847. A summary court presided over by a magistrate and justices of the peace (‘good’ and ‘lawful’ men) would meet as necessary in the Town Hall chamber to make decisions about minor crimes, civil actions and preliminary hearings.
Justice was harsh in those days. Typical crimes for which local people came up before the magistrate included setting animal snares (Robert Townsend, fined 20 pounds in 1790; this equates to over 1,500 pounds today), being drunk on a Sunday (William Carpenter, fined 5 pounds in 1809) and stealing asparagus plants (John Archer, sent to Northleach House of Correction for three months hard labour in 1829). Women received the same sentences as men in certain circumstances as Mary Brewer found to her cost in 1831, serving two months hard labour at Northleach for rioting and indecent behaviour.
Those attending will need to be quite fit as there a a number of stairs up to the room and there are no disabled facilitites. Having said that, those using the room will really enjoy the architecture. There is a small kitchen where refreshments can be made. From this space two spiral staircases act as emergency exits.
To hire the hall, just contact Katie, Bron or Sarah at the Parish Office on 01285 - 659317 and they will be pleased to advise you of the Town Hall's availability.