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Auchtermuchty, 30 High Street, Town Hall

Town Hall (19-20th Century)

Site Name Auchtermuchty, 30 High Street, Town Hall

Classification Town Hall (19-20th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Auchtermuchty Town House; The Cross; Council Chambers; Auchtermuchty Tolbooth

Canmore ID 30282

Site Number NO21SW 132

NGR NO 23802 11734

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/30282

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Fife
  • Parish Auchtermuchty
  • Former Region Fife
  • Former District North East Fife
  • Former County Fife

Architecture Notes

DATES: circa 1782.

Activities

Publication Account (1981)

The charter of 1517 gave permission for the burgesses of the town to erect a tolbooth and there conduct council meetings. The tolbooth which stands today at the Cross was built in 1728. It comprises a two-storey building and a central building with a balustrade and a stone spire in the traditional Fife pattern (Anon, 1975, n.p). Alterations were carried out on the building in the age of Victoria, and recently the building was stone cleaned. On the ground floor are the cells which held the town council members in 1818.

Information from ‘Historic Auchtermuchty: The Archaeological Implications of Development’, (1981).

Publication Account (1996)

Although the burgh of Auchtermuchty was granted the right to hold a court and collect tolls in its royal charter of 1517, the oldest part of the present town-house was built in 1728, the date carved on a panel set into the N wall of the steeple. In the previous year the town council had considered 'how uneasie and troublesome' was 'the want of a good tolbooth with a clock and bell and steeple for containing the same'. A committee was appointed to make contracts with tradesmen, and money for the building-fund was borrowed from local residents and from the kirk-session. The work was completed in 1729.

The town-house stands in a prominent position on the S side of High Street at its broadest part, apparently on a different site from its predecessor. It originally comprised a twostoreyed block measuring 17.9m across its main (N) front, with a single-storeyed cell extension at the rear which in the 19th century was encased in a larger SE wing. The building is constructed of rubble with dressed margins and the N front of the ground storey is rendered and painted. The gables of the main block are crow-stepped and the roofs are slated, that of the added wing being hipped above its faceted S end.

A steeple some 4.1m square rises above the main block to a balustraded parapet at a height of 16m enclosing a pyramidal stone spire. The base of the N wall of the steeple is corbelled out slightly from the centre of the N front a little below present wall-head level, and it rises, with pairs of slit-windows in the lower part, to square clock-faces of 1897 and round-headed louvred belfry-opeiiings below the balustrade.

The fenestration of the N front is regular, with three-bay ground-floor frontages flanking the steeple. The main ground floor rooms were functioning as shops by 1840, and probably served to raise revenue for the burgh, While the steeple has remained unaltered, the main block was extensively re-worked in the second halfofthe 19th century when the first-floor windows were enlarged and given prominent dormer gablets. A surround with similar detail was added to the main doorway, which gives access by steps rising through the solid base of the steeple to the first-floor rooms that were formerly used by the town council. The ground-and first-floor rooms in the SE addition of this period are bow-ended internally, the latter extending through the whole depth of the original block and the extension.

The surviving cell at the rear of the main block is rectangular on plan and retains a timber door and iron yett set within re-worked jambs, while its flat ceiling is reinforced with metal sheeting. Immediately to the W there was a smaller cell, through which a modern passage has been formed. The continuation of the splayed W wall of this cell to the SE may have belonged to an original ertclosing-wall for a rear courtyard. It is possible that another small cell was fitted into the base of the steeple below the main stair, but later reworking of the interior has obscured any evidence of this. In 1840 the cells were 'very seldom used'.

A new clock was ordered in 1728, and the existing mechanism incorporates a metal plate recording its repair in 1740 and 1841. A bell weighing seven hundredweight was ordered at London in 1728, but split in 1740 and was shipped back there for recasting to eleven hundred weight. The present bell was cast in 1874 by John Warner and Sons of London.

Information from ‘Tolbooths and Town-Houses: Civic Architecture in Scotland to 1833’ (1996).

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