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Listed Building
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Ordnance survey map of TOWN HALL
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Cheshire West and Chester (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SJ 40450 66446



SJ4066SW NORTHGATE STREET AND ROW 595-1/3/286 (West side) 10/01/72 Town Hall (Formerly Listed as: NORTHGATE STREET Town Hall)


Town hall. 1865-69. By WH Lynn of Lanyon Lynn and Lanyon of Belfast. Council chamber gutted by fire in 1897 and redesigned internally by TM Lockwood 1898. Banded pink and buff sandstone; graded grey-green slate roof. EXTERIOR: semi-basement, 2 main storeys and dormer attic. Of C13 French influence, the front is symmetrical with a 160 foot helm spire. Opposed flights of steps with a pierced parapet in front of the plain semi-basement lead to a central landing before the porch which is recessed behind a pair of arches with a polished stone central column. The semi-basement, formerly largely occupied by courtroom, cells and police station, has rectangular windows; a secondary entrance near the south end has a recessed segmental-arched surround. The semi-basement, treated as a plinth, has a cap-moulding at the floor level of the first main storey which has 4 pairs of arched windows with colonnettes and plate tracery south of the slightly-projecting entrance bay, and 2 similar pairs and 2 single arched windows north of the entrance; a moulded stringcourse at sill level; between the entrance arches the date 1869 and the pre-1974 Chester City arms are carved. The second main storey has an ornate stringcourse carried across a projecting central balcony on 3 pairs of shaped brackets, with stone balustrade. 2 pairs of arched French windows to the balcony are separated by a central pier with 4 colonnettes; there is a colonnette before the meeting-stiles of each pair of doors; shafts at each end of the entrance-bay rise from balcony to eaves; 4 pairs of arched windows to each side of the entrance-bay have colonnettes, plate tracery, recessed circlets with shields on quatrefoils beneath the windows and larger circular cartouches above each pair of windows; the windows to the Council Chamber, north, have leaded lights; a tourelle at each corner; an ornate stringcourse and cornice beneath the parapet balustrade is carried across a balustraded balcony at the base of the tower. The first stage of the tower has 2 pairs of French doors to the balcony, with colonnettes and tracery; 3 hipped dormers with ornate finials in the roof to each side of the tower;

cast-iron cresting in roofs; ornate stringcourse to base of second stage of tower; triple bell-openings have boarded louvres and a gabled niche to each side; a corbelled stringcourse above; the plate tracery of a circular window in each gable of the helm spire serves as a clock-face; corner pinnacles have niches and crockets; a steep-roofed hipped dormer on each face of the spire has boarded louvres and an ornate finial; the spire terminates in a balconied belvedere with a steep pyramidal roof. The north side to Princess Street is asymmetric with an octagonal stair turret, the top stage expressed as a belfry with a small spire, at the junction of the principal block with the lower rear wing. There are entrances to the magistrates court and the former police station, now the City Record Office; the latter has the lantern of its former blue lamp. The elements of fenestration, string-courses and ornament are similar to those described for the front, but the 3 pairs of arched windows to the Council Chamber in the second main storey have shaped leaded glazing, unlike the plain glass of other windows, probably designed by Lockwood and inserted in 1898. The south side and rear are largely concealed by the Forum development of the 1960s. INTERIOR: the central axis comprises the recessed porch, the stair hall with a cross passage to each of the 2 main storeys of the Council Suite, the waiting hall with doors to the parallel Assembly Hall, south, and the Magistrates, formerly Quarter-Sessions, Court, north, and to a rear cross passage enclosed in 1886 at its west end. The central cluster of 4 polished granite columns in the porch bear a groined vault of red sandstone; 4 panels of cream freestone by a "sculptor of repute" apparently selected by Lynn depict Roman Soldiers Building the Walls of Deva, King Egbert Uniting the Kingdom of Mercia, Hugh Lupus created Earl of Chester (by William I) and The Entry of Charles I into Chester. The flagged stair hall has a groined vault with the passage to each side barrel vaulted in painted brick; panelled doors of pine. The divided stair of stone curves in to a landing which bridges the hall, with an apsidal arcade behind; the drum of the stairwell has full-length pictures painted in 1578, bought from Sir TSM Stanley of Hoole by Sir T Gibbons Frost in 1883 and presented to the City; a memorial presented by the Polish Air Force, stationed at Sealand, in 1944; eight stained glass windows in the arcaded clerestory by RB Edmondson of Manchester depict Gherbod the Fleming who declined the Earldom of Chester to return to Flanders and the 7 Norman Earls of Chester; a straight stone stair leads from the landing to the waiting hall which has double doors to the Court, the Assembly Hall and the rear passage, a war memorial

bearing 768 names erected by Sir John Meadows Frost, Mayor 1913-19, four sculpted panels depicting Minstrels Marching to Relieve Earl Randolph (at Rhuddlan), Black Prince granting Charter to Citizens, Henry VII Constituting Chester a County and Sir W Brereton (a Parliamentarian) before the Mayor's (Royalist) Court; the walls are panelled to a dado at lintel level; a circular window in west gable depicts the Common Seal of Chester City; clerestory windows in north wall; a wagon roof. The Court is panelled to the dado rail and has probably original furnishing, a low west gallery, a round-arched recess behind the Bench, with a broad door of 9 panels to each side, the upper 6 panels having leaded glazing, a double door to the waiting hall and the rear passage; 3 trusses support the roof, which has a coved lantern with 2 large roof-lights with leaded glazing. The Assembly Hall is panelled to the dado rail at lintel level; the east end has an apsidal raised orchestra stage; a circular window of stained glass in the west gable has plate tracery; the roof trusses are largely hidden by a ceiling inserted later C20. The upper landing from the stair hall has a pointed arch of red sandstone to the passage at each side; above the door to the central front room, the Mayor's Parlour, a sculpted panel depicts Edward Prince of Wales receiving homage, First Royal Earl of Chester A.D.1252; arch-braced trusses support the boarded roof over the landing and the apse of the stair-well; the passage to each side of the landing has a timber ceiling with joists exposed; above the door of the south room a sculpted panel depicts James the Second welcomed by the Citizens and Nobility; above the door to the Council Chamber, north, the panel depicts Charter granted to Mayor and Corporation by Randolph the Third, A.D.1181. The Member's Room, south-east, has a boarded roof on trusses; No.1 Committee Room, north of centre, has wall panelling and beams on brackets. The Council Chamber by TM Lockwood is an enclave of the Jacobean Revival in a High-Gothic Hotel de Ville, with oak panelling, Corinthian pilasters to the west gallery which has access from Princess Street via the stair turret, 2 stone fireplaces with putti serving as atlantes to support the mantels and carved oak overmantels bearing the arms of the Earl of Chester and the pre-1974 arms of the City of Chester; the carved dado rail is at door lintel level; the ceiling has a deep plaster frieze moulded with a pattern of foliage, figures and cartouches, a large coved cornice, panels of plaster on four oak trusses with carved brackets resting on good sandstone corbels in the form of birds; 4 ornate chandeliers; beneath the gallery is inscribed B.C. ROBERTS,

MAYOR 1896-7: J.F.LOWE, SHERIFF: THE COUNCIL CHAMBER RESTORED AFTER THE FIRE ON THE 27TH MARCH, 1897, AND, WITH OTHER IMPROVEMENTS, COMPLETED IN 1898: J.G.HOLMES, MAYOR 1897-8: J.W.HUKE, SHERIFF. The composition of the Town Hall, with its tall helm spire, provides a satisfying focal point in the townscape; the stair hall and the Council Chamber are pleasing features of a good and little altered interior. (Town Hall Committee Minutes: Chester City Council: MB 1860; Chester City Council and City Record Office: From Moot Hall to Town Hall: Chester: PASSIM).

Listing NGR: SJ4045066446

This List entry has been amended to add sources for War Memorials Online and the War Memorials Register. These sources were not used in the compilation of this List entry but are added here as a guide for further reading, 27 October 2017.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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War Memorials Online, accessed 27 October 2017 from
War Memorials Register, accessed 27 October 2017 from


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 02 May 2002
Reference: IOE01/06878/19
Rights: Copyright IoE Dr John L. Wishlade. Source Historic England Archive
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