This is a wonderful atmospheric Grade ll* Listed building.
The Old Municipal Buildings are in the historic centre of Taunton on the outer limits of the grounds of Taunton Castle. The road outside - Corporation Street - follows the line of the Castle Moat. Behind, in Castle Green Car Park, was the Outer Bailey of the Castle.
These buildings were originally built in 1522 as a boys' grammar school, although there are records of the existence of a school here as long ago as the reign of Edward l, about 1300.
The Founder was Bishop Fox who was Lord Privy Seal to Henry Vll and Henry Vlll (his portrait is on the staircase). Bishop Fox, was at the time he ordered the building, Bishop of Winchester and Lord of the Manor of Taunton Deane. He died in 1528 and his tomb is in Winchester Cathedral.
This grammar school was in use from 1522 until 1870 and was built at a cost of £226 5s 10d. Boys' names and initials can be seen carved on the stone surrounds to the windows.
Although it is not immediately apparent from outside, the portion of the building to the east of the main door is original, whilst the portion to the west of the door was added as recently as 1904. The whole building was scheduled as an Ancient Monument in 1933.
The Hall was the main school room. From 1887 the building was bought by the Taunton Borough Council and restored and converted for its own purposes. It was a court room from 1928 for some years when the roof and walls were strengthened and preserved and in 1938 the stonework and windows were renewed. In 1973 it passed to Taunton Deane District Council. The charter granting Borough status was in 1975.
Portraits of Bishop Fox, Sir Benjamin Hammett, Robert Gray and Richard Huish are along the stairs, all benefactors of Taunton. These portraits are by painters from the English School and with the exception of the one of Sir Benjamin Hammett are thought to be copies. Between Sir Benjamin Hammett and Bishop Fox is 'Portrait of a Man' by J Fuller.
In the centre of the window is depicted the Common Seal of the Borough of Taunton, and is based on that of the city of Exeter. It is known to have been used in 1509, but may date from as early as the 13th Century. It was adopted as the Corporation Armorial Bearings in 1877, until 1934 when the present Armorial Bearings were assigned.
This room was originally the dormitory for the school. The room nextdoor, now the Mayor's Parlour was the Headmaster's Room. It was used as a Council Chamber until 1974 and until 1987 as a Committee Room. The horse-shoe pattern tables were designed and built by Sir John Paget in 1977.
Since 1987 the greater part of the building had been home to voluntary organisations and more recently the Town Centre Management Company. The Old Municipal Buildings is now the new home of the Taunton Registry Office, which moved to the site at the end of last year.