Visit Wells Town Hall – Home of Wells' first bobbies!
By hrbrsd | Thursday, August 29, 2013, 13:15
Historic Wells Town Hall will be throwing its doors open to the general public again on Sunday 15 September as part of the programme of events for Heritage Open Day. And this time you can see a special display about Wells' first bobbies – who were stationed in the Town Hall when Wells Borough Police Force first came into being on 1 February 1836.
Policemen outside Wells Police Station
Bob Love, who is researching the history of policing in Somerset, has discovered that the original Watch House, "where the constables were to report after each patrol and also where prisoners would be held pending their appearance before a magistrate", was the Town Hall's gaol.
By 1848 the police station had moved to a building in front of the Town Hall which is now part of the Crown Hotel. Before being converted into a police station, it had been "the Old Bacon House". When the County Police were formed in 1856 and Wells Borough Police ceased to exist, the County Police took over their building. In 1880, they moved back to the Town Hall, to a new extension which was purpose built as a police station.
You can see it in this photograph, complete with gas light over the main entrance. If you go along and look carefully at the arch above the door, you can still just make out some of the lettering which read "Police Station." Why not come along on 15 September and see what nineteenth-century justice was like? You will be able to see in the original Charge Book who was arrested and charged in November 1846 and how they were punished.
Most rooms in the Town Hall will be open on 15 September, including the Mayor's Parlour, the Parkes Room and the ballroom. The Town Hall, which is a Grade II listed building dating from 1779, will be open between 11am and 4pm. Films of local interest will be shown at 1.30 pm and 2.30 pm. Each showing will include films on St Andrew's Well and the water of Wells, St Cuthbert's Church and Burcott Mill. Entry is free and showings will last for 40 minutes.
As well as the display about Wells Borough Police Force (1836-56), there will be other displays from the City Archives in the Parkes Room, including several of the medieval City charters, and Wells Railway Fraternity will be exhibiting.