A History of the County of York East Riding: Volume 6, the Borough and Liberties of Beverley. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1989.
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Guildhall and Municipal Offices.
The right to have a hanse house, or Guildhall, was granted to the burgesses by the archbishop perhaps in 1122. (fn. 1) Its site is not known but it may have been a hall in the Dings belonging to the archbishop, mentioned as early as the 1160s, (fn. 2) presumably in the house there which the archbishop exchanged with the burgesses in 1282. (fn. 3) The building in the Dings was perhaps that described as 'the guildhall anciently called the hanse house' in 1359. (fn. 4) By 1366, however, the keepers paid 3s. rent a year to St. Mary's chapel for the use of a building as a guildhall and from 1386 that payment was accompanied by another of £1 to the merchant guild of St. John for the same building; the former payment was sometimes called the fee farm or assize rent. (fn. 5) The merchants' hall was evidently in Walkergate: that street was paved 'to the door of the guildhall' in 1344, and a bridge over Walker beck was made 'opposite the guildhall' in 1450-1. (fn. 6) A move to the Dings was considered in the 15th century. In 1434 the keepers decided to raise money to build a new hall in the Dings by letting the common average but that was opposed by the burgesses and reversed soon after. (fn. 7) In 1437 the tenant of four shops at the southern end of the Dings undertook to rebuild the premises with a hall and chambers under a 40-year lease. The keepers decided in 1463 to give up the merchants' hall and use the new hall in the Dings instead. Notice of the surrender was given to the guild and compensation was ordered to be paid to the tenant in the Dings. (fn. 8) The rents were nevertheless still being paid to the guild and St. Mary's chapel in 1494, but not in 1502; (fn. 9) perhaps they continued until the keepers' lease of the hall expired or because the proposed move to the Dings was not effected.
The building next used as a guildhall was a 'great messuage' in Cross garths (later Register Square) which the keepers acquired by exchange in 1501. (fn. 10) A 'long chamber' there 'with the great part of the hall' was repaired in 1502. (fn. 11) Part of the house was let to the East Riding justices from 1611 as a house of correction, and the whole of the southern half of the house was let to them from 1703 as a sessions house and house of correction. (fn. 12) The Charity school was also accommodated there in the earlier 18th century. (fn. 13) The southern half of the house later became the borough prison and afterwards a police station. (fn. 14) It was thus only the northern half of the house which, from 1703, comprised the guildhall.
The guildhall was ordered to be repaired in 1730. (fn. 15) A new council chamber and jury room designed by William Middleton were built in 1762 behind the existing building, part of which was also reconstructed. The south wall of the council chamber has round-headed windows and, to suggest symmetry, blind arches were set in the north wall. The east wall bears the borough arms and the west the royal arms, while the ceiling is richly ornamented. All the plasterwork was done by Giuseppe Cortese in 1762-3. While work was in progress the corporation met in the workhouse. (fn. 16) Alterations made in 1827 (fn. 17) included the insertion at the east end of the council chamber of a screen with Doric columns and a public gallery, using materials acquired after the dismantling of galleries in the minster. The front of the old building was not altered until 1832-5, when the rooms there were remodelled and a large Doric portico was added by Charles Mountain the younger. (fn. 18) The old arched entrance was removed to a house at Woodmansey. (fn. 19) Two of the pillars of the portico were temporarily taken down and the foundations made good in 1889. (fn. 20) Repairs carried out in 1981-2, when the public gallery was removed, revealed a 15th-century timber-framed wall and doorways of the original house and they were left exposed at the east end of the council chamber and in the kitchen above. (fn. 21)
Municipal offices were accommodated in a house in Lairgate from 1911 or earlier until 1930, when they were moved to the Hall, Lairgate. (fn. 22) At local government reorganization in 1974 they passed to Beverley Borough district council.
A prison at Beverley was mentioned in 1285, and the archbishop claimed by prescription to have custody of prisoners, gaol delivery, and gallows there in 1293. (fn. 23) The prison was several times recorded from the 14th to the 16th century. (fn. 24) In the 1530s, and presumably earlier, it was in the archbishop's manor house, later called Hall Garth. (fn. 25) In 1542 the archbishop exchanged the manor of Beverley with the Crown, and the gaol was granted with the manor in 1561 to Robert Dudley. (fn. 26) At least from the 17th century the gaol served Beverley Water Towns manor. Only one or two prisoners were confined there in the 1770s. (fn. 27) The prison was mentioned, along with the court house, as late as 1827. (fn. 28) The archbishop's gallows may have stood in Gallows Lane, on the boundary with Molescroft. The provost's prison in the Bedern was mentioned from the 14th century. (fn. 29)
The town governors were not granted a prison by the Crown in the Middle Ages but they evidently had a place of confinement by 151920, when they repaired the 'kidcote', a name given to prisons in Hull, York, and elsewhere; it was repaired again in 1603-5. (fn. 30) The kidcote, which was in the Dings in Saturday Market, was let by the corporation from 1627 to 1649-50, and once during that time it was called the pillory. (fn. 31) It was presumably the same as the pillory house in Saturday Market which was first mentioned as such in 1672 and was demolished in 1761. (fn. 32) The instrument of punishment itself was recorded from 1609; it was kept in the pillory house and set up in the market place when needed. A temporary pillory was ordered to be made as late as 1783. (fn. 33) Stocks were mentioned from 1557 and there were later several pairs in the town; of three ordered to be set up in 1735 one was to be near the pillory house. (fn. 34) Cuckstool pits were recorded from the 14th century, one evidently between Saturday Market and Walkergate and another presumably in Cuckstool Pit (later Tiger) Lane. (fn. 35)
A prison was granted to the town by the charter of incorporation of 1573 (fn. 36) and the same year a prison and gaoler's house were made in the former Trinity maison dieu near Cross bridge in Toll Gavel. (fn. 37) It was called the burgess prison in 1584-5 (fn. 38) and it may have been the building, mistakenly called the Bow bridge prison, which was repaired in 1644-5. (fn. 39) Repair was ordered again in 1730. (fn. 40) Only one or two prisoners were confined there in the 1770s. (fn. 41) It was in poor condition in 1792, when the rooms were considered cramped and unsuitable. (fn. 42)
When the former East Riding house of correction, next to the guildhall in Register Square, became available for use by the borough in 1811 the Toll Gavel building was sold and soon after was demolished. (fn. 43) The prison in Register Square was rebuilt in 1832. (fn. 44) It was conveyed to the Beverley J.P.s in 1835. (fn. 45) It contained few inmates, only four at Michaelmas in 1833 and 1834, (fn. 46) for example, most town prisoners being sent to the East Riding prison. (fn. 47) By 1857 the building was used as the lock-up for the adjoining police office, (fn. 48) and in 1863, after the existing gaoler left, the corporation decided that the superintendant of police should have charge of the prison and occupy the gaoler's house. (fn. 49) The building thus became the borough police station. (fn. 50)
Parish and Union Workhouses.
A workhouse for St. Martin's, St. Mary's, and St. Nicholas's parishes was built in Minster Moorgate in 17267. (fn. 51) It became the workhouse of the new Beverley poor-law union in 1836 and was altered and improved the next year. (fn. 52) After its replacement in 1861 it was sold in 1864 and soon demolished. (fn. 53)
A new building, designed by J. B. & W. Atkinson of York in a Tudor style, was built facing Westwood in 1860-1. (fn. 54) It was approached by a new thoroughfare known as Union Road (later Woodlands). An infirmary was added in 1893 and casual wards and a lodge with entrance arch in 1895; all were designed by Messrs. Hawe & Foley. (fn. 55) After poor-law functions were transferred to the East Riding county council in 1929 the institution was run by the Beverley Guardians Committee. (fn. 56) It was taken over as a hospital in 1939. (fn. 57)
Beverley Rural District Council Offices.
From its inception in 1896 the council and its committees met at the union workhouse, but it also had a room in Newbegin. (fn. 58) In 1936 the room was replaced by offices in Saturday Market (fn. 59) and in 1953 additional offices were opened in a house in Lairgate. (fn. 60) In 1959 new offices were opened in a house in Lairgate called the Gables, and additions to the building were opened in 1970. (fn. 61)
East Yorkshire Borough of Beverley District Council Offices.
At its formation in 1974 Beverley Borough district council took over the former guildhall in Register Square, the former offices of Beverley rural district council at the Gables, Lairgate, and the former municipal offices in the Hall, Lairgate. Council meetings were held at county hall, and the guildhall was used for ceremonial and other purposes. (fn. 62) The Gables was sold to the county council in 1979. (fn. 63) Extensions to the Hall were opened in 1982. (fn. 64)
East Riding Sessions House.
In the mid 17th century the East Ridings sessions were held at Hall Garth, in a building on the site of the former archbishop's manor house. (fn. 65) The justices already used part of the town's guildhall as a house of correction (fn. 66) before, in 1703, they were given a new lease evidently so that their sessions could also be held there; in 1708 reference was made to the use of part of the guildhall as a sessions house. The lease of 1703 comprised that part of the building measuring 7 yd. by 38 yd. lying south of the door leading to the town's hall; it comprised mill house, kitchen, back kitchen, two low prisons, an outshot, two low rooms, a buttery, and a house of office on the ground floor, and seven chambers and a study on the first floor, all but one chamber having garrets above. (fn. 67) It was sometimes called the country or county hall. (fn. 68) When alterations were carried out in 1710 to accommodate the Charity school, (fn. 69) two chambers were also made over the sessions house for the juries. (fn. 70) The lease was renewed in 1742 (fn. 71) and again in 1785, on the latter occasion reserving to the corporation inter alia the 'simmon' (perhaps summons) house, should it be needed. (fn. 72) The lease was surrendered in 1811. (fn. 73)
A new sessions house and house of correction were built in 1805-10 on a 4-a. site in New Walk to designs by Charles Watson, of Wakefield. (fn. 74)
The sessions house, of white brick with stone dressings, has Ionic columns and a pediment containing the royal arms and surmounted by a figure of Justice. (fn. 75) Repairs carried out in 19834 involved the rebuilding of the roof. (fn. 76) The Crown court was still held there in 1988.
East Riding House of Correction and Prison.
A house of correction evidently existed from 1584, when the East Riding justices collected money for its erection and Beverley corporation paid for the right to send people there. (fn. 77) The house was moved to new premises in 1611, when the justices rented part of the town's guildhall for it, (fn. 78) and the governors of the house were given trees by the corporation in 1632 to build a horse mill behind it. (fn. 79) A new lease was sought in 1649 and another taken in 1663; (fn. 80) a stone bearing the latter date survived in 1988. In 1703 the justices had a new lease of part of the guildhall so that it could be used as both a house of correction and a sessions house. (fn. 81) When some of the rooms were given over to the Charity school (fn. 82) in 1710 alterations were made, including the building of a workhouse in the yard for the prisoners. (fn. 83) The lease was renewed in 1742, reserving to the corporation a room for a lunatic, (fn. 84) and again in 1785, reserving inter alia the use of the house of correction for vagrants and lunatics. (fn. 85) Already in 1751 the house was described as ruinous and inadequate. (fn. 86) Only one or two prisoners were held there in the 1770s. (fn. 87) The lease was surrendered and the keys of the prison given up in 1811; (fn. 88) it then became the borough prison.
A new house of correction or prison for the East Riding was built, along with a sessions house, in New Walk in 1805-10. (fn. 89) As first occupied in 1810 it contained 22 cells. Alterations included the addition of workshops in 1812, 4 cells in 1814, 33 cells on the introduction of a system of classification of prisoners in 1820, and a treadmill in 1823. Day rooms were converted to cells in 1835, giving a total of 126 cells, after the introduction of a system of silence among prisoners. Some cells were enlarged in the 1860s, reducing the total number to 107. (fn. 90) The number of prisoners held was usually c. 60 in the 1860s and 1870s. (fn. 91) The institution was transferred to the Prison Commissioners and closed in 1878 under the Prisons Act of the previous year, the inmates being sent to West Riding prisons. (fn. 92)
The buildings were sold by the commissioners in 1880 to a builder, Marmaduke Whitton, who converted some of them to houses (now nos. 513 Norfolk Street), sold the governor's house for a convent, and demolished the rest. (fn. 93)
East Riding Police Station.
After the formation of the East Riding constabulary in 1856 part of the house of correction in New Walk was appropriated as a police station for North Hunsley division, with offices for the chief constable. (fn. 94) Those buildings, which were close to the sessions house, were spared after the closure and partial demolition of the house of correction. The divisional station was later moved elsewhere but the county headquarters remained at the sessions house. (fn. 95) It was altered and enlarged in 1929-30, and the former Norwood Home, Hengate, was used while the work was in progress. (fn. 96) A former convent, behind the sessions house, was bought in 1959 and adapted as police accommodation in 1961-2. (fn. 97) The East Riding force became part of the newly formed York and North East Yorkshire police force in 1968, (fn. 98) but Humberside county council became the new police authority in 1974. Beverley was a divisional station from 1968; it was further altered and enlarged in 1985.
East Riding Registry of Deeds.
A registry of deeds for the East Riding and Hull was established in 1708. An office and a registrar's house were built on ground formerly included in the sessions house lease (fn. 99) but bought by the justices that year from the corporation. (fn. 100) In 1800 the office was described as insufficient and insecure, and the house was in bad repair. (fn. 101) Additional ground was bought in 1801. (fn. 102) Office and house were replaced in 1801-2, the registrar, Henry Legard, rebuilding the house with an allowance from the justices. (fn. 103) The office was designed by Appleton Bennison of Hull. (fn. 104) The house was enlarged after 1853. (fn. 105) The office was again replaced in 1898, when it was accommodated in additions made to county hall, (fn. 106) and it was enlarged in 1920. (fn. 107) The registration of deeds was ended in 1974 and the registry was closed for all purposes in 1976, (fn. 108) the building later being used as part of county hall.
East Riding, later Humberside, County Hall and Offices.
After its formation in 1889 the East Riding county council and its committees at first met in the sessions house and the guildhall. (fn. 109) In 1890 the former Mechanics' Institute, Cross Street, was bought as the site for a new county hall, which was built of red brick with stone dressings to designs by Smith & Brodrick of Hull in a Flemish Renaissance style and opened in 1892. (fn. 110) Work on additional buildings, fronting on Champney Road and including a new office for the registry of deeds, began in 1898 to designs by B. S. Jacobs of Hull. (fn. 111) The former post office, at the corner of Cross Street and Register Square, was bought in 1906 as the site for further additions, which were also designed by Jacobs and were completed in 1908. (fn. 112) An addition was made to the building in 1920 and at the same time the former registrar's house was converted to offices and temporary buildings were put up in its garden. (fn. 113)
Thereafter the ever increasing need for accommodation was partly met by renting or buying many buildings in the town. (fn. 114) Close to the county hall, the former Masonic Hall and Holland House, in Register Square, were both bought in 1927. (fn. 115) The former newsroom, Cross Street, was bought in 1935, (fn. 116) the Congregational manse, Lairgate, was bought in 1939, (fn. 117) and the adjoining former Beverley rural district council offices, the Gables, were acquired in 1979. (fn. 118) Away from the county hall site, St. Mary's Manor in North Bar Within and its 6-a. grounds were bought in 1948 and offices were provided in the grounds from 1966-7. (fn. 119) Council use of the St. Mary's Manor site was coming to an end in 1988. A former factory office block in Eastgate was leased in the 1970s and others in Flemingate and Grovehill Road were acquired in 1979 and 1980; (fn. 120) the last two were still used in 1988.
Despite the acquisition of other buildings, a new office block was built in the grounds of the registrar's house in 1931-2. (fn. 121) Some of the buildings that had been acquired were eventually replaced by new offices, opened in 1983. (fn. 122) Designed in the county architect's department (fn. 123) and built of dark red brick with slated roofs, they occupy a large site fronting on to Champney Road, Lairgate, and Landress Lane. In 1986 more new buildings were erected near Register Square, and part of the former police station there was refurbished as offices.
Militia Depot and Barracks.
The Beverley Volunteer Infantry had a store room in the town in 1807 and its successor the East Riding Local Militia, formed in 1808 and disbanded in 1836, rented a store room from an innkeeper in 1809. (fn. 124) The militia had an arms depot, with residence for a sergeant, at the guildhall in 1829. (fn. 125) By 1838 the old-established East York Regiment of Militia had a store room in Waltham Lane. After the reorganization of the militia in 1852 that room was declared inadequate the next year, and a depot or barracks was built in 1853-4; (fn. 126) the site, on the north side of the sessions house, New Walk, had been bought by the East Riding justices in 1845. (fn. 127) The castellated white-brick building (fn. 128) was given up in 1878, sold in 1882, and demolished soon afterwards. (fn. 129)
In 1874 a 10-a. site beside Queensgate, in Beverley Parks, was acquired as the site for a barracks (fn. 130) and the buildings were completed in 1877. (fn. 131) Victoria barracks, as they became known, served as the depot of the East Yorkshire Regiment, (fn. 132) as well as housing the East York Militia. During the Second World War the barracks was extended by the construction of a large hutted camp in adjoining fields. (fn. 133) After the demise of the regiment in 1958 the barracks was still used for military purposes until 1961, but was later demolished. (fn. 134) The site was sold by the Secretary of State for Defence in 1977 (fn. 135) and was largely unused in 1988.
A battalion of the East Yorkshire Volunteers, formed in 1860, (fn. 136) had a drill hall in Walkergate in the late 19th century. (fn. 137) In 1902 the former grammar school building in Albert Terrace was bought by the county council and converted to a headquarters for the volunteers, who rented it from 1904. It passed to the Territorial Army and was generally known as the drill hall. It was given up in 1946 and was later used as a fire station. (fn. 138)