Town Hall

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Venue Type & Location

Town Hall

Site Name: Town Hall
Location: Fordwich
County: Kent
Location Type: Town - in town at determined location

Performance Spaces


The town hall is a 2-storey timber frame building constructed over a mixed rubble and brick ground floor and jettied on 3 sides, overlooking the River Stour. It may sit on the site of an earlier 13th c. guildhall.

The ground level served as town gaol and stores; the hall was on the upper storey. Before the river silted up Fordwich was the closest port to Canterbury. An extension on the back of the hall housed a crane used to unload and load boats with shipments to and from the larger city. The quay and the crane were important sources of revenue for the small town.

Performance History

Though small, the town hall may have been the venue for most performances by touring entertainers for which there are extant payment records between 1568--1633.

Current Status

Extant and still in use by the town council, it is billed as the smallest town hall still in use in Britain. The hall operates as a museum and is open to the public at specified times.

History of the Venue

13th c. First town hall built (Rigold, 'Two Types' 17).

1544 Upper level hall likely built or substantially reconstructed. At some point the upper level of the building was clad in limestone plaster.

late 19th c. Plaster on the facade removed, revealing the herring-bone facing. Since then the interior has had some renovation, with the removal of fascia-board from the ceiling, revealing beam studding.

1885 The town lost its corporate status, so the town hall subsequently ceased to serve an official civic function.

1972 Town status restored.

Record Source

REED Kent: Diocese of Canterbury 1.596--604

Bibliographic Sources

  • Fordwich: The Ancient Port of Canterbury. Canterbury: Cross & Jackman, 1926.
  • Green, Ivan. The Book of the Cinque Ports: Their Origin and Development, Heyday and Decline. Buckingham: Barracuda, 1984.
  • Hasted, Edward. The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent. 1st ed [1778]. 12 vols. Canterbury: Printed for the author by Simmons and Kirkby, 1778.
  • Igglesden, Charles. A Saunter Through Kent with Pen and Pencil. 38 vols. Ashford: Kentish Express, 1900–194x.
  • Newman, John. North East and East Kent. The Buildings of England. Harmondsworth and New York: Penguin, 1983.
  • Rigold, S.E. 'Two Types of Court Hall.' Archaeologia Cantiana 83 (1968): 1–22.
  • Tittler, Robert. Architecture and Power: The Town Hall and the English Urban Community c. 1500–1640. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1991.
  • Woodruff, C.E. History of the Town and Port of Fordwich. Canterbury: Cross and Jackman, 1895.