The Building

The Building

The Guildhall and jail on St Peter’s Hill in Grantham was commissioned in 1866 by Mayor Thomas Winter after criminal Jesse Dale, who was serving 15 years for stealing, twice walked out of the town’s original jail in 1864.

This original Guildhall and jail building stood on the corner of Guildhall Street and High Street and dated from 1787.  After Jesse’s second escape, the governor at the time William Mayer was sacked and a government inspector condemned the building.  The inmates had to be sent to Lincoln.  The site of the demolished Guildhall was bought by the Stamford, Boston and Spalding Bank (later Barclays) and is now home to the Goose at the Bank pub.

On the current Guildhall site was an old school – The Firs – housed in a former town house.  This and the adjoining land were bought for £2,100. Lincoln architect William Watkins drew up the design for the new building and the work was carried out Mr Wartnaby, of Little Gonerby, for £7,260.

The original Guildhall was made up of three separate buildings – the main building which housed a ballroom and courtroom (or session’s hall), a governor’s residence and a jail for up to 18 men and women on two floors.
However, although it seemed no expense had been spared on the building, officers from the South Lincolnshire Militia were less than happy to find it was missing a certain facility when they booked to use the hall – a toilet.  At this point, councillors agreed one should be installed to avoid further embarrassment.

The new Guildhall was also home to the four-sided clock which was the first time many of the town’s residents would have had the luxury of telling the time with any accuracy.  It was this fact that coined the local phrase ‘under the clock’ meaning, ‘to appear in court’.

As late as 1930, publican Frank Milner of the Victoria Hotel, Commercial Road, was let off with a caution for serving out of hours because he set his time by the clock which was, and still is, a little slow.

In 1882 an area of the building was leased to cigar makers Robinson and Barnsdale and 15 years later, to the Grantham Technical Institute.

From our What’s On section...

  • drama, music


    Fri 15 Nov

    “What did thy song bode, lady? Hark, canst thou hear me? I will play the swan, And die in...

  • music
    Barbara Dickson

    Barbara Dickson

    Sat 16 Nov

    In these special acoustic performances Barbara and her pianist Nick Holland explore her ca...

  • music, film


    Mon 18 Nov

    A musical fantasy about the fantastical human story of Elton John's breakthrough years. S...

  • pantomime
    Cinderella - Guildhall Arts Centre Pantomime

    Cinderella - Guildhall Arts Centre...

    Sat 7 Dec - Wed 18 Dec, Fri 20 - Tues 24 Dec, Fri 27 - Tues 31 Dec, Thurs 2 - Sat 4 Jan 2020

    Polka Dot Pantomimes are back for 2019 with Cinderella! This...

We use cookies on this website to improve how it works and how it’s used.

Accept & Continue