Celebrating 150 years of the town hall at Heritage WeekendBy Victoria Corbett
September 10, 2010
Staff at Wokingham Town Hall will be rewinding the clock this weekend when the annual heritage celebrations get under way.
Victoria Corbett found out how people can delve into the history of the town centre
Townspeople can uncover the secrets of the place where they live and discover fascinating facts about the history of Wokingham this weekend. Historians and Wokingham Town Council have been working together to make this year’s Heritage Weekend celebrations the best yet.
A good time is promised for all the family, with a colourful procession, games, interesting displays and Wokingham’s market stallholders getting involved with themed costumes.
This is a special year for Wokingham’s heritage celebrations, as it marks the 150th anniversary of Wokingham Town Hall in Market Place.
The Grade-II listed building will be the star of the show on Sunday when the grand opening ceremony of the town hall is recreated, featuring a descendent of the man who officially opened the historic building in 1860.
Lady Elizabeth Godsal will take part in a procession from Station Road, along Shute End and Broad Street to Market Place from 11.30am to re-enact the opening ceremony.
Lady Elizabeth, who is High Steward of Wokingham, is related to High Steward Richard Cornwallis Neville, the fourth Lord Braybrooke, who opened the town hall in 1860.
She will parade with pride in a horse-drawn carriage next to Councillor Danny Miller, who will play Lord Braybrooke in the re-enactment.
People are being invited to line the parade route to take a closer look at the costumes on show.
Children from Wokingham schools will also be lining up for the parade, with Wescott Infant and St Paul’s Junior schools ready to do their bit to celebrate the town hall’s history.
St Sebastian’s Brass Band will provide music to march to.
Once the procession is over, families can explore the town hall, which will be open from 11am to 4pm on Sunday.
Inside there will be a Victorian exhibition and display of the town silver. There will also be guided tours of the building, as well as refreshments and historical booklets for sale. Children can test their newfound knowledge of the town’s history with a quiz.
In Market Place on Saturday, free Punch and Judy shows will get youngsters laughing and there will also be fairground rides and a Victorian hand-turned organ to entertain visitors.
Market traders have been invited to take part in a Victorian fancy dress competition at the market on Saturday, so expect some colourful characters. The winner of the prize will be announced at 1pm on Saturday.
Although marking the town hall’s birthday is the focus of the event, the festivities extend beyond Market Place, with local churches also taking part.
All Saints Church in Wiltshire Road is offering tower viewings on Sunday from 1pm to 5pm, with churchyard tours from 3pm to 5pm and church tours from 2pm to 4pm.
St Paul’s Church in Reading Road is throwing its doors open on Saturday and Sunday with churchyard tours from 3pm to 3.30pm and church tours from 3.30pm to 4pm. Wokingham Library in Denmark Street is also getting involved by holding a Victorian exhibition and quiz until September 17. Heritage Weekend has been organised by Wokingham Town Council, town clerk Keith Abnett and local historian Jim Bell, along with fellow town council staff including Nicola Payler.
- For more information, drop into the town hall in Market Place.