The original Town Hall of Christchurch is believed to have been sited further down the High Street, close to the Ship Inn. This ‘modern’ Old Town Hall was originally built on the site of the Old Market House at The Square being the junction of the High Street and Castle Street between 1745 and 1747. It was under the Town Hall that markets were held. The cost of the new building was £500. Old views showing it on this site with an Arcade around it are still to be seen.
The present site of the Old Town Hall (formerly known as Blanchard’s Yard) was purchased by Mr James Druitt in 1857 and the Town Hall was reputedly moved brick-by-brick with the original façade but minus the Arcade to its current site in 1859. It appears that a hall was added to the rear at this time; the contract for the move having been awarded to Mr George Wickham. The work including the addition of the hall to the rear was completed for the sum of £1,075.
© Images Copyright Town Clerk
The Planning Department listing for the Old Town Hall Scheme describes as follows:
“1859. The upper floor and cupola replica of the Old Town Hall of 1746 which stood in the centre of the High Street, Church Street, Castle Street junction. Red brick with white stone dressings, stone eaves cornice and balustrade. Hipped slate roof with centre domed cupola. Stone quoins, 1st floor string course and plinth. Stone centre bay under pediment flanked by Doric pilasters. 2 storeys 5 windows centre 1st floor. Venetian window with balcony. Ground floor windows and door round arched with moulded stone architraves and keystones, centre 1st floor same. Side windows 1st floor have gauged rubbed brick arches with triple stone keys. All windows unbarred sashes. Added ground floor canopy.”
Alterations and additions have taken place over the years and include most recently a replacement of the Old Town Hall Cupola in 2020. The Building is Grade II listed. The listing at Historic England can be accessed at the following link: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1324677
Following Local Government Re-Organisation in Dorset in 2019, the Town Council became the freeholders and current guardians of the Old Town Hall. With such small numbers of staff working for the Town Council, the Old Town Hall became the administrative office for the Town Clerk, Democratic Services Officer and Mayor’s Secretary. It is still used today to hold meetings with the Mayor of Christchurch and elected Councillors and members of the public.