Salisbury Guildhall, in the Market Square, is the local council building. Built in the 18th century and home to the Oak Court, a replica of the Old Bailey, the building is often open for visitors to pop in and have a quick look around, to learn more about Salisbury’s municipal history. Sometimes there are free guided tours which include the jail cells and other areas not normally accessible to the public.
Salisbury Guildhall was built in the 18th century, although there has been a building on the site since the early 14th century. The original was built in the early 1300s and was known as The Bishop’s Guildhall, and it was from here that the Bishops would exercise their feudal rights of criminal and civil justice.
In 1585, the Merchant’s Guild built a new headquarters nearby, calling it the Council House. After a mayoral banquet in November 1780, the Council House burnt down. The second Earl of Radnor offered to pay for the construction of a new one, but stipulated that it must be in the centre of the Market Square. His offer was politely refused until he agreed to a different location. After some discussion over which direction the building should face, which the Earl again lost; construction could finally go ahead.