Association of Open University Graduates




Durham Town Hall Main Hall

The Mayor's Chamber-Durham Town Hall

News of AOUG in the North (09)

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A Visit to Durham Town Hall

A group of us met at the Gala Theatre Durham where we had tea and then walked to Durham Market Place where Lord Londonderry sits on his horse, his huge statue guarding the entrance to the city.

At the Theatre we sat near the window over the river and talked of our experiences with The Open University. Tea drank, and scones eaten, we then had photographs taken by the statue of the Monks of St Cuthbert carrying the Saint’s body trying to find a resting place for their beloved leader.

Then to the building near St. Nicholas Church with its new office that leads to Durham Town Hall, the hidden treasure of Durham, a city with many treasures, the cathedral, and the castle. Few people realise the secret hall and assembly rooms which look out onto the City’s main square.

The Town Hall occupies the site of a mansion built for the Neville family, the Earl of Westmoreland which was obtained by the Crown in 1569 after the Rising of the North Rebellion. That building served as a textile factory, a school and a workhouse and was pulled down in 1850, the present Town Hall being built in 1851 by P Hardwick, an early member of the Arts and Craft movement. The present building is composed of the Crush Hall, the Main Hall, the Guildhall, the Mayors Chamber and the Basement. It is a working building where several organisations hold meetings, but the government of the city is conducted up the road at the County Hall.

Our group was shown around by a guide named Gary who provided a detailed history of the building from describing the life and work of Count Boruwlaski, whose small clothes are in a glass case in the foyer with a life size statue of the Count who was about thirty nine inches or ninety nine centimetres in height, to the vast Main Hall with the paintings of former mayors and its ceiling reminiscent of Westminster Hall. The design is of the Perpendicular Hammerbeam type and was built in 1851.

The Mayor’s Chamber is considered to have been built originally in 1500, with the coat of arms of one of the Prince Bishops above the door with a crown denoting the Prince Bishop Lord Crewe he and his fellow Bishops were only answerable to the King and God. Our guide told a tale of ghostly sightings featuring a painting in the Mayor’s Chamber. We walked around the building and listened spellbound to its history.

Violet Rook

Executive Representative - Jean McKenna 01429 232959

Local Contact
Newcastle - Violet Rook 07962 276091