The Town Hall is regarded as the symbolic expression
of civic government, having changed very little in external
appearance since its completion in 1869.
The entrance is approached by two flights of steps from
Northgate Street. The year of completion, 1869, and the armorial
bearings used by Chester until 1974 are carved above the porch
which also contains four sculptures in Bath stone. These depict
Roman soldiers building the walls of Chester; Egbert (802-39), King
of the West Saxons and conqueror of Mercia; the entry of Charles I
into Chester in 1642; and Hugh I receiving the earldom of Chester
from William the Conqueror, c.1077.
The Waiting Hall
The Waiting Hall contains a number of interesting features.
Flanking the entrance doors are busts of George V (1910-36), who
visited Chester in 1914 and Sir Horatio Lloyd, Recorder of Chester
from 1866 until 1921. Above the central doors of the Assembly Room,
a sculpture shows a group of minstrels marching to the aid of Sir
Ranulph III (1181-1232), who was besieged by the Welsh in Rhuddlan
Castle; and above the entrance to the Court Room, Sir William
Brereton is shown before the Mayor's court, following his arrest in
1642 for attempting to raise recruits for the Parliamentary
Sculptures at the end of the Waiting Hall depict Edward the
Black Prince (1330-76) granting a charter in 1354; and Henry VII
(1485-1509) granting Chester county status in 1506.
The war memorial outside the Assembly Room bears the names of
768 Chester citizens who died during the First World War. A small
plaque commemorates all those people from Chester who died during
the Second World War.
The tapestry, at the far end of the Waiting Hall was inspired by
European Architectural Heritage Year 1975. The theme is 'Chester
The circular stained glass window at the end of the hall shows
the common seal of the City.
This is the largest room in the Town Hall. Above the stage is
painted the former armorial bearings of Chester, with the city
motto, 'Antiqui Colant Antiquum Dierum', which may be translated as
'Let the ancients worship the ancient of days'. The armorial
bearings are also depicted in the circular stained glass
Until the abolition of Quarter Sessions by the Courts Act 1971,
Quarter Sessions for the City of Chester were held in the court.
After that time until April 1993, it was used as a Magistrates
Court, with the adjoining room used as a retiring room for the
Staircase, Balcony and Landing
The shields and plaques that decorate the staircase wall have
been presented by distinguished visitors to the Town Hall.
On the half landing is a memorial presented to the City of
Chester by the Polish Air Force Unit at Sealand, Chester on
Poland's National Day, 3 August 1944.
The Victorian stained glass windows above the staircase depict
Gherbod the Fleming, who was given the Earldom of Chester by
William the Conqueror, and the seven Norman Earls of Chester; Hugh
I (c.1077-1101) who was known as Hugh Lupus; Richard (1101-20);
Ranulph I (1120-28); Ranulph II (1128-53); Hugh II (1153-81);
Ranulph III (1181-1232); and John the Scot (1232-37).
The portraits on the upper staircase wall also depict the Norman
Earls, but are entirely imaginary. They were painted in 1578 and
show the Earls in Tudor armour.
The three sculptures on the landing are Earl Ranulph III
granting a charter to the citizens; Prince Edward, later Edward I
(1272-1307) receiving homage; and James II (1685-88) being welcomed
on his visit to Chester in 1687.
The Council Chamber is a particularly impressive room, which is
oak panelled and adorned with splendid carvings in wood and
Chester's former armorial bearings and the arms of the Prince of
Wales as Earl of Chester are carved in wood above the fireplace.
The Chamber also contains the grant of new armorial bearings
received from the college of Arms in 1977.
On 27 March 1897, the Council Chamber was completely gutted by
fire, but was restored the following year. The gallery clock was
presented by John Goodie Holmes, Mayor of Chester in 1897-98.
Lord Mayoral Suite
This consists of the Lord Mayor's Parlour and the Lady
Mayoress's Parlour, used for the reception of civic visitors.
On display in the Mayor's Parlour are two eighteenth century
sword and mace stands. The clock, carved to resemble the west front
of Chester Cathedral, is one of six similar clocks presented to the
light cruiser, HMS Chester by the Citizens in May 1916. The ship
took part in the Battle of Jutland in May 1916 and is remembered
especially for the heroism of John Travers Cornwell, V.C.
The most interesting features of the Mayoress's Parlour are the
nine portraits of founders of local charities, painted on the
wainscotting, rescued from the council room of the Exchange
Building in 1862.
The room adjacent to the Lord Mayor's Parlour contains
panels bearing the names of the Mayors of Chester from 1238,
Lord Mayors from 1991, the Sheriffs from 1836, the Norman and Royal
Earls from c.1070, the Clerks and Town Clerks from 1291 and
Recorders from 1506. There is also a roll of Honorary Freemen of
Chester from 1897, including the present Prince of Wales.
Take a virtual tour of the Town Hall by visiting
the Virtual Town Hall