Venue Type & Location


Site Name: Guildhall
Location: Plymouth
County: Devon
Location Type: Town - in town at determined location


Plymouth's 3rd guildhall, with a projecting tower, was located at the corner of Whimple and Market (later High) Streets. There were open shambles at ground level, with a hall, council chamber, debtors' prison and small room for criminals awaiting sentencing on the upper storey. The mayor and council sat at the W end of the hall and a staircase at the E end led to the council chamber, a small room over the hall and partly in the tower (Worth, Plymouth 391).

Little is known of Plymouth's first guildhall, in existence by 1491 and located on Southside Street near Sutton Pool, according to tradition. The second guildhall, built in 1565, was located on the same site as its Jacobean replacement.

Performance History

As the seat of civic government and centre for festive occasions, Plymouth's guildhall was probably the venue for most performances by touring entertainers before the mayor and city officials before 1620. After that date such performances were effectively discouraged by civic officials.

Current Status


History of the Venue

14xx First guildhall built.

1515 Guildhall refronted (Worth, Plymouth 389).

1565 Second guildhall built on a new site.

1606--7 Third guildhall built, on the site of the Elizabethan hall and incorporating the adjacent market cross site.

1666/7 Extensive repairs and rebuilding.

1706 Cupola added.

1800 Demolished to make way for a new limestone guildhall in Regency style on the same site (demolished 1945).

1874 New guildhall opened in Royal Parade.

Record Source

REED Devon 213--67

Bibliographic Sources

  • Bracken, C.W. A History of Plymouth and her Neighbours. Plymouth: Underhill (Plymouth), 1931.
  • Cherry, Bridget, and Nikolaus Pevsner. Devon. The Buildings of England. London: Penguin Books, 1989.
  • Etched on Devon's Memory. 06/09/2005 (
  • Gill, Crispin. Plymouth: A New History. 1966. 2 vols. Newton Abbot, London and North Pomfret, VT: David & Charles, 1979.
  • Hearder, G. and J. 'The Perambulator, No. III. The Old Guildhall.' The South Devon Monthly Museum 1.4 (1 April 1833): 121–4.
  • Plymouth Library Service. Applause South West. 06/13/2005 (
  • Tittler, Robert. Architecture and Power: The Town Hall and the English Urban Community c. 1500–1640. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1991.
  • Welch, Edwin. Plymouth Building Accounts of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. Devon & Cornwall Record Society ns 12. Torquay: Devon & Cornwall Record Society, 1967.
  • Worth, R.N. History of Plymouth from the Earliest Period to the Present Time. Plymouth: William Brendon & Son, 1890.