Town Hall, Colchester, by John Raphael Roderigues Brandon (1817-77) and John Blore (1812-82), opened 1845, demolished 1897. This elegant three-storey, five-bay early Victorian town hall was built on the north side of Colchester High Street, in place of a much older hall on the same site. The neo-classical façade had attractive detailing: the bays were divided by six pilasters with a cornice and balustrade above them, the panel below the balustrade carrying the date, and a higher central panel in the middle of the balustrade carrying the borough arms. It had cost £6,000 to build, a sum raised mostly by public subscription, and it served various functions. It housed "the moot hall, a court room, a magistrate's room, committee rooms, a police station and cells, and offices for the gaoler; by 1882 there were two court rooms"; but by then it had already become inadequate, and even unstable: "neighbouring properties were bought to extend and buttress the building, but the work was not carried out, and in 1897 the hall was demolished" (Cooper and Elrington).

The new municipal office, which still stands, is very different, with typically late-Victorian / Edwardian baroque flourishes, including a very high tower topped with a statue of Colchester's patron saint, St Helena. Designed by John Belcher, it was opened in 1902 and is, like others of its time, more obviously a symbol of municipal pride.

After the earlier town hall was completed, the two architects involved went their different ways: in the very year that it was completed, George Basevi died as a result of falling from the roof of Ely Cathedral, and Blore succeeded him as surveyor of the prestigious Alexander Estate in Kensington (see Sheppard), while Brandon's career was focussed on building and restoring churches in an entirely different, neo-Gothic style.

First image from Cooper and Elrington; colour photograph © David Hawgood, originally posted on the geograph site and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence (many thanks for this). Text and formatting by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use the first image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit its source and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. Click on the images to enlarge them.

Related Material


Cooper, Janet, and C. R. Elrington, eds. "Municipal buildings." In A History of the County of Essex: Volume 9, the Borough of Colchester. London, 1994: 274-277. British History Online. Web. 4 May 2015.

Hawgood, David. "Colchester Town Hall." geograph. Web. 4 May 2015.

Sheppard, F. W., ed. "The Alexander Estate." Survey of London: Volume 41, Brompton. London, 1983: 58-86. Web. 4 May 2015.

Created 4 May 2015