An A - Z of Suffolk gildhalls

A - D

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The origins of gilds and why they built halls is explained on another page.  This is an overview of all the gildhalls I know in Suffolk.  By no means all are listed by Pevsner.



Badwell Ash


We start with one of the most dubious ones.  This house is  called the Old Guildhall and there are various references to it on the web, mainly because it provides - or once did - bed and breakfast accommodation.  It has obviously been heavily modernised.  There is no mention in Pevsner, it is not on the list of Gildhalls in PSIAH Vol XiX (see bibliography on gilds page), nor is there a gild mentioned at all in Badwell Ash in that list (although it is likely there was one).  Furthermore it is not near the church.  So, no real evidence - just the name to go on.





Bardwell


This is one of the  better documented gildhalls in Suffolk but it is not mentioned in Pevsner.  The Gild of St Peter has been traced  back to mentions in 1511 - 1546.  
The gildhall still exists and it was pictured in Westlake’s book The Parish Gilds of Medieval England published in 1919 and a copy of the old photograph is shown here.  There was an article in the Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archeology and History in 1903 Vol (vol xi, pp 81 - 133 and 134 - 137) called Gild of St Peter in Bardwell by F E Warren.  Westlake refers to him as Canon Warren.


As can be seen from the modern photograph below it is adjacent to the Churchyard.  The other side of the house as shown in the old photograph is not publicly accessible.  The Grade II listing text is available here.





Beccles?


Still to be researched.  At least 7 gilds are known. Is mentioned in Medieval Suffolk  by Mark Bailey as having a possible craft guild and there are some indications that a building remains.  There is certainly a Guildhall Road so you may get a photograph of a road sign at least in the future.



Bungay




The building above is mentioned by Pevsner as 14 - 18 St Mary’s Street and described as “a house of c.

1500
and has three oriel windows with original sills” (these are illustrated on the Bungay page).  He makes no mention of its former use but as can be seen on the larger photograph there is a plaque on the wall between the doorway and the green shopfront.  This is shown in more detail alongside here and it can be seen that it was “... once the Town’s Guildhall ...”.  In support of this proposition it is directly across the road from the church.


The PSIAH listing of Suffolk gilds shows a Gild of Corpus Christi in Bungay mentioned in 1515.


The listed building text makes no mention of its use as a guildhall so we must hope that those responsible for the plaque have additional information.



Bury St Edmunds


The PSIAH list (downloadable via the bibliography on the Gilds page) shows 20 gilds and fraternities in Bury St Edmunds.  Even this list does not mention the earliest recorded gild in Suffolk which was in Bury St Edmunds.  This shows the importance of Bury St Edmunds as a major religious centre in medieval times.  With Ipswich, possibly Beccles and just maybe Sudbury it is unusual in having trade and craft guilds as well as parish and religious gilds.







It is probable there were several gildhalls but the main one remains in, appropriately, Guildhall Street.  This is described in Pevsner and several view of it are shown here and below.


There is an article in PSIAH Vol XXXI, pp 117 - 157, 1968 (Bound Volume 1970 in Suffolk Record Office) by M Statham, titled “The Guildhall, Bury St Edmunds”.












Buxhall?


Still to be researched.  The PSIAH list shows a Gild of St John which was dissolved in 1546.



Clare


The former gildhall at Clare is now a doctors’ surgery - appropriately named the Guildhall Surgery.  The surgery website gives a little history, noting the building as late 14th century and that it was later used as a school.  It is directly across the road from the church (St Peter and St Paul) as can be seen from the second picture below.  It is not mentioned in Pevsner and I cannot spot it in the listed buildings area but I do not know what its number is in the High St.  The PSIAH list shows two gilds in Clare: The Gild of John Baptist in Chilton and The Guild of Corpus Christi.







Debenham


Pevsner mentions the guildhall (he universally used the guildhall spelling) as “a house of c 1500 ... with a pretty porch with four-cornered door-arch and brick nogging on the upper floor.”  The main parish church is St Mary Magdalene: the gildhall is not adjacent but is in the same block.  The PSIAH list shows two gilds in Debenham: St Trinity, mentioned in 1476, and St Mary which was mentioned with its gildhall in 1476.


Debenham has a very pretty main street - why not take a virtual drive down the High Street, B1077, towards Aspall St to look at the Church and Guildhall via the Google Map?





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