Major plans are developing to make St. Mary’s Guildhall fit for the 21st Century. A dual faceted approach is being proposed – with a heritage offering and a commercial offering. A total of £5.5 million is to be spent on the building. This major investment is needed because of the deteriorating condition of the building and the City Council is fully committed to the scheme.
A lot of funding has already been secured for the project including £2.2 million from the City of Culture allocation and £620,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. A further bid for £1.7 million is being considered by the Heritage Lottery Fund. However the Council has committed that the project will go ahead even if the grant awards are not forthcoming; the money will instead be raised from loans.
The heritage work will include restoration of the medieval kitchen and conservation and showcasing of the tapestry. Work will also include improving accessibility, toilets etc. The scheme will extend into parts of the Council House that were previously separate from the Guildhall, including the Ellen Terry Suite. There will also be interactive digital displays and other educational space and activities.
The commercial offering includes new posts to support education and marketing. A new purpose built commercial kitchen will be built in the courtyard behind the Council House. There will also be a new conference suite and facilities. The hall will continue to be used for weddings.
The work will mean the Guildhall will be closed for at least part of the City of Culture Year. The plans are for the phased re-opening between March and June 2021, although there is a lot of scope for delays. Over the next few months there will be public consultation and a Listed Building application. Work has already started on the stripping out of the kitchen.
The Medieval Kitchen at St. Mary’s Guildhall