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Market Hall Museum - Market Place, Warwick, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 52° 16.905 W 001° 35.429
30U E 596153 N 5793311
Quick Description: The Market Hall was constructed in the late 17th century to give market traders some protection from the elements. The Warwickshire Natural History and Archaeological Society was founded here in 1836 and the museum followed shortly after.
Location: West Midlands, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 5/5/2016 10:51:24 AM
Waymark Code: WMR33E
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member bluesnote
Views: 0

Long Description:

Wikipedia has an article about the Market Hall Museum that tells us:

Market Hall Museum is an historic museum located in Warwick, in Warwickshire, England. The Market Hall forms part of The Warwickshire Museum, alongside St John's House. The Warwickshire Museum is operated by Heritage and Culture Warwickshire. The collections on display at Market Hall are primarily focused on objects in the fields of archaeology, geology and natural history, and particularly those local to Warwickshire.

The Market Hall was constructed in the latter part of the 17th century, as a way to provide shelter and protection from the weather for salesmen and stallholders in the town's regular market – the precursor, Booth Hall, being declared insufficient. The building was constructed with a large, open-plan ground floor with wide open arches, to allow easy access to the stalls. The first floor also housed a number of rooms, which after 1694 served as meeting rooms for any organisations which wished to rent them.

From the early 18th century to 1848, one small room in the Hall served as a "lock-up" – a small room which was used to hold prisoners before magistrate trials. From 1833 until its closure in 1848 the room was declared a "disgrace" – in 1842, it was reported that the room was "8ft 8ins by 3ft 8ins" and at one point housed thirteen people at once.

At the beginning of the 19th century, there was a surge in interest in popular education – particularly in the realms of natural sciences, natural history, and archaeology. In 1836, the Warwickshire Natural History and Archaeological Society was formed as a group of like-minded local men. Advertisements were placed in the local newspaper, and rooms were hired in the Market Hall for their meetings. At the first meeting it was declared that one of the main aims should be to amass a collection of zoological, botanical and mineral objects. These objects were placed on display in the Market Hall for public viewing, on payment of one shilling (an amount which excluded many of the poor of Warwickshire), or an annual payment of one guinea for "subscription", which also constituted membership of the society. Members additionally had the benefit of being invited to free lectures on natural or historical topics, and partaking in lunches at the Woolpack Inn across the road.

The Society held a free event in 1847 (and repeated in subsequent years), allowing members of the public to enter and browse the collection for free. It was noted in a newspaper report in the Warwick Advertiser after the event that "Hundreds of visitors to the museum conducted themselves with the utmost decorum." In 1879, the ground-floor arches were blocked off, replacing them with windows and doors held within iron frames. The ground floor was still used for market activities until around 1900 though, at which point the Museum's collection had grown such that it required the entire building. Shortly afterward in 1905, renovations were made to the building in order to make it more fit for purpose as a museum – these included a new front door with the word MUSEUM on the stonework above it (which can still be seen today). However, membership of the Society began to decline in the latter part of the 19th century.

As membership dwindled, funding became more difficult to come across. As a result, in March 1932 the Society's secretaries made an offer of the Museum's collection directly to Warwickshire County Council, which they accepted. This made Warwickshire County Council the first county council in the UK to take responsibility for a museum service directly. The building was later Scheduled as an Ancient Monument in 1936 to prevent its demolition, and in 1938 work was set about to repair and restore the building. Also in 1938, the museum was made free of charge to the general public, allowing anybody from the Borough of Warwick to view the collection.

The Museum was classified as a Grade II* Listed Building in 1953, after a short spell as a Civil Defense Store during the Second World War. Further renovation was undergone not long after, including a replica of the original cupola of the building, and the installation of new windows to light the attic floor (which is currently occupied by offices). At this point, the building looked close to its current appearance. Since this date the operation of the Museum has been handled by the Warwickshire Museum Service, now part of Heritage and Culture Warwickshire.

As at its inception, the Museum still holds items of significant archaeological, geological or natural interest. However whilst the Museum originally collected objects from around the country (with a bias toward local findings), the Museum now displays almost exclusively objects local to Warwickshire.

As mentioned, the building is Grade II* listed with the entry at the Historic England website telling us:

Late C17 2 storey Market Hall of local sandstone ashlar work 3 bays wide and 5 bays long. Lower storey was originally an open market place with continuous semi-circular-headed arcade, but circa 1880 this was filled in with incongruous windows and plain boarded door. String band at first floor. Moulded architraves to window openings on upper floor, which now have satisfactory sashes in cased frames of (?) early C19 date. Heavy, moulded stone cornice at eaves with modillions. Hipped tile roof has been much restored. Existing (probably C19) lantern in Roman cement, replaces an earlier cupola. Pedimented dormers, wooden balustrade to central flat roof round cupola.

Website: [Web Link]

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