One day last October I decided to take advantage of the free guided tours that are on offer for the Council House in Nottingham, a building I’d never stepped foot in before.
Our tour guide, Dennis, was absolutely brilliant, full of informative and funny stories and this was by far my favourite tour guide experience so far. Not only was it interesting to peek behind the scenes but I learned a lot of new things about Nottingham as well.
Some Council business is still conducted here, indeed we had the opportunity of walking around the Council Chamber, as seen below, and it also houses the offices of the Lord Mayor and the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Made from Portland stone taken from the same quarry Christopher Wren used for St. Paul’s Cathedral, the most beautiful part of the Council House has to be the dome. It houses the chiming clock and Little John, the striking bell which supposedly has the deepest tone in the country. It looks equally impressive from the inside as it does the outside.
The architect, T. Cecil Howitt, received his contract in 1925 and the Council House was officially opened in 1929 by the future King Edward VIII.
What I hadn’t realised before now was the degree to which the Saxons and the Normans were divided in the City, and our guide pointed out the actual boundary line outside the Council House, demonstrating the literal divide between the English and the French. I’ve walked over it countless times and never really given it a seconds thought.
The whole building is suffused with this kind of history. Standing in a corner of the front entrance is the 200-year-old Town Bell, which rang when an execution took place at the gaol.
The Tour was also fun for allowing us to stand out on the balcony where many important people, from the Queen down, have stood and waved to the crowds.
We also got to explore the Lord Mayor’s Parlour…
…the Sheriff’s Room…
…and the Member’s Room, which contained some of my favourite stained glass examples from the building.
Art Deco is a definite theme of the building, and this light in the Ballroom is a prime example.
I had a great time on the tour and enjoyed the opportunity of exploring another aspect of Nottingham’s history.
As ever, you can find more photos here.