The History of the Town Hall
“Grade II. Brick and slated. Partly plastered and partly colour-washed. Two storey and three storey. Sashes. Round headed doorways with fanlights. Overhanging eaves. Early C19. Group value.”
This was how the building was described, as part of a group called 15, 16, 17 West Borough, in its first listing in 1952.
In a new listing in February 1983, the description was revised; Nos 15, 16, 17 were described separately as Nos 31, 33, 35 and what was formerly listed as part of Nos 15, 16, 17″ was called No 37 West Borough.
Early C19. Similar in character to the adjoined terrace. Colour-washed brick walls, low slated roof. Brick stacks. Two storeys, occupying the same total height as he 3 storeys of the adjoining terrace. Ground floor has central archway leading to rear. South of this, one double hung sash window with glazing bars. North of the arch, a large opening with ledged doors. First floor has 3 double hung sashes with glazing bars. The large first floor room may have had some public function. It has a segmental plaster ceiling, with moulded cornice and ornamental ceiling roses now rather dilapidated.
Attempts to pin down an exact date for the building have proved unsuccessful. The site was occupied (by what looks like a little house) on a map of 1620 found in the Kingston Lacy archives.
In Woodwards survey of 1775 for the Kingston Lacy Estate a leasehold house and garden was occupied by Widow Pearcy and the plots on either side were described in the same way as house and garden (some leasehold, some freehold, some copyhold).
All the plots are a regular size, with buildings only on the road. As the buildings currently to the north are thatched cottages and statistically older than the town hall, it may be that the town hall site and the plots to the south of it also contained thatched cottages but there is no hard evidence.
On the 1832 map of the town drawn specifically for the Minster Vestry is the first reference to the present building.
William Fryer is both occupier and proprietor of the “New Hall, Yard, etc.” and immediately to the south is a vacant site, also owned by Fryer, described as “3 new cottages ‘building’”.
The plots are now irregular and building has taken place more deeply on the site. By 1845/7, the Wimborne Tithe Map shows the “New Hall and Yard” owned by the Rev. Henry Edmund Fryer and occupied by John Fryer. (In 1842, a John Fryer is named as manager of National and Provincial Bank and in 1848 a John Fryer Esq. of West Borough is listed as Gentry.)