A group of Community Connectors and Connectees visited Exeter's historic Guildhall for a guided tour. The centrepiece of Exeter’s civic life for more more than 800 years, the Guildhall can be easily overlooked in the bustle of modern city life.
Two mace sergeants were our guides and firstly introduced the group to their voluntary roles.
The first part of the tour introduced us to the architecture of the Main Hall. From the installation of the vibrant stain glass windows in 1480 to the poignant story behind the portrait of Princess Henrietta Anna, our guides shared their extensive knowledge.
Good humour was also abundant, particularly when we discovered some of the black and white tiles of the Main Hall were removed during the second world war and replaced with wooden flooring to meet the needs of dancing American GIs. Some of these tiles were never returned – our guide believes someone in Exeter has quite a remarkable kitchen floor!
From the Main Hall, we were taken to ‘The Oak Door’, used by the group to enter the Guildhall. However, it was only when we were asked to take notice of the craftsmanship of Nicholas Baggett that we appreciated its significance. Created by him for the sum of £4.50 in today’s money, it was certainly a sound investment.
Stepping through the Oak Door, the group entered the Mace Sergeant’s Office. It looked every bit like a contemporary office. However, a nondescript panel in the floor was lifted to reveal ‘the pit’, where prisoners were once detained.
Upstairs, we visited the Lord Mayor’s Parlour and viewed their ceremonial dress and regalia, including the ‘Cap of Maintenance’, a gift awarded by Henry VII to express gratitude to Exeter for its loyalty.
Glass cabinets house many artefacts that illustrate the enduring legacy of the Guildhall, and the traditions it continues to uphold on behalf of the city of Exeter.
The group left the Guildhall having learned lots of new facts in a relaxed environment. Exeter's Guildhall is open every day and free to enter, or you can pay for a guided tour with a Mace Sergeant if you want to learn more. #guildhall #exeter #history