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Town Hall Toddington

The Town Hall in 1581 [X1/102]
The Town Hall in 1581 [X1/102]

The former Town Hall stands on the south-west edge of the churchyard on the corner of Church Square and Market Square. In 1970 it was listed by the former Department of the Environment as Grade II, of special interest. This medieval building dates from the 15th century, with later alterations. It has a timber-frame with red brick nogging, a façade of whitewashed brick and a tile roof. There are three casements with glazing bars [HER2435].

The first known record of the building comes from 1510 when the Manor court rolls refer to the tenant of the Domus Villat of Toddington. It appears on the Agas map of 1581 [X1/102], showing a session house and a toll booth attached on the side of the building which have since disappeared. A reference of 1652 indicates that the first floor building was in use as a school. It continued to be used as a school until 1854 when the National School was built. From this time the upper storey was used by the militia to store muskets. The ground floor was used to hold meetings, and for a time was occupied by a lending library. Extensive repairs were carried out in 1898 at a cost £194 9s 6d. This work included filling in the cellar, removing internal stairs and building external stairs, and underpinning of some walls.

The Town Hall continued to belong to Toddington Manor until the 20th century. In 1918 it was put up for sale as part of the Toddington Manor estate but at the auction the bidding only reached £100 and the lot was withdrawn. The description given in the sale particulars [HN7/1/TOD2] were as follows: 

"A valuable property situated in the Centre of Toddington, facing the Green, comprising the substantially built brick and tiled premises known as the 'Town Hall and Council Offices'.

The premises contain on the GROUND FLOOR, Council room, Club Room, Clerks' Office and a Store Cupboard.

On the FIRST FLOOR, approach to which is obtained by two Staircases, is the Town Hall, a room measuring 36 feet by 21 feet.

OUTSIDE the Building is a Timber and Iron Coal Barn.

Also included in the Lot is the right of receiving any tolls or dues payable in respect of the temporary occupation of the Green during the fair or at other times.

The Premises are at the present time in the occupation of the Toddington Parish Council on a Lady-day yearly tenancy at a rental of £25:0:0 per annum."

Not long after this the Town Hall, the village green and the title of Lord of the Manor were sold to the Rector, Rev. Frederick Cyril Nugent Hicks. He was subsequently appointed Bishop of Lincoln (1933-42) and as such he conveyed the Town Hall and village green to Toddington Parish Council in 1938 [CRT130/TOD/20]. During the Second World War the Town Hall was used as a war nursery for evacuated children [CRT150/237].

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. The Town Hall was described as being owned and occupied by Toddington Parish Council, although it was in fact at this time still owned by the Church. No description was given of the property which was at that time in use as a solicitor's room, a parish room, and by the Fire Brigade. The valuer noted "Property split up at present, dispute as to who has what" [DV1/C82/136].

In 1969 the Parish Council decided to demolish the Town Hall due to its poor condition, but as a result of local opposition it was given a Grade II listing by the Department of the Environment. Despite the listing the Parish Council applied to have the building demolished; the application was rejected as was a subsequent appeal. The Town Hall was sold by the Parish Council in 1987 and used as offices. It has since been an art gallery and at the time of writing [2015] is a micro-pub named the Cuckoo.

The Town Hall rear June 2015
The Town Hall rear June 2015