The Guildhall, Brecon

PWMP logobutton_lang_welshThe Guildhall, Brecon

A Guildhall has stood here for about 700 years. The current building, also known as the town hall, was erected in 1770 with a market hall on the ground floor. The basement is thought to date from the 1620s.

Alterations started in 1888 created a magistrates’ court on the ground floor and a theatre upstairs. There was already a tradition of plays and other entertainment in the Guildhall. One of the early cases in the courtroom was that of brothel keeper Minnie Price, 50, jailed for a month in 1893 after soldiers and civilians were seen entering her house in The Struet.

Many events were held here in the First World War. Local suffragists (who argued for votes for women but without the suffragettes’ militant tactics) put their campaigning on hold to focus on fundraising and providing nurses for hospitals in France and Serbia. They held a meeting in the town hall in January 1915 where a guest from London spoke about “women’s work in wartime”.

In 1917 a blind musicians’ concert was held here, in aid of servicemen blinded in the war. Other events raised funds for the Nursing Association and the military hospital at Penoyre.

The insecurity of Britain’s food supply was also highlighted at the town hall. Homeowners were told it was their duty to grow food in every square yard of their gardens. In April 1918 a rally was held here to recruit women for the Women’s Land Army and the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. It was said that each woman who enlisted would release one man for the frontline.

Many men came to the Guildhall to argue that they shouldn’t have to fight, or had their cases pleaded by parents or employers. In just one day in 1916, the county military tribunal heard almost 30 appeals against conscription here, some from conscientious objectors.

In January 1919 the Comrades of the Great War held a ceremony here which included presentations to local men who had won distinctions in the war. Those present included John Williams (aka John Fielding), awarded the Victoria Cross after the Battle of Rorke’s Drift in 1879. He had re-enlisted in 1914 and worked at Brecon army depot.

Since 1974 the Guildhall has been the home of Brecon Town Council. It is also a licensed wedding venue.

Part of the 1988 film On the Black Hill was filmed in the council chamber. The action filmed here related to men seeking to avoid conscription in the First World War.

Postcode: LD3 7AL    View Location Map

Website of Brecon Town Council

To continue the Brecon in WW1 tour, walk westwards along High Street, past the Sarah Siddons Inn. Start descending Ship Street. The next QR codes are at Ship Shape hair salon
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