The History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset
by John Hutchins:

(3rd Edition published 1868)

Transcribed by Michael Russell OPC for Dorchester - May 2016

DORCHESTER DIVISION

THE TOWN AND BOROUGH OF DORCHESTER.


The Shire Hall
Pages 372-374

This building is at present held by lease under the corporation of Dorchester, dated Oct 1st 1792, to the clerk of the peace, in trust, for the magestrates of the county, paying a quit rent of £1.1s per annum, for a term of 99 years. It has been repaired and added to at different periods, the expense being borne sometimes by a subscription from individuals, and sometimes defrayed out of the county rate. The corporation claim a right to make use of it for holding their borough sessions and other public meetings, and in consideration thereof were used to keep the roof in repair; but, the building being in a most ruinous it was proposed to exonerate them from such repair, provided they would consent on their part to certain restrictions in the exercise of their claim. and would grant a long lease of the edifice.

The terms will more fully appear from a copy of the lease hereunto annexed. The front wall, from having given way, being in a most dangerous state, and more than one foot out of perpendicular, it was found necessary to shore it up with timbers previous to the summer assizes of 1795; and after several meetings on the subject it was at last determined, at the Epiphany sessions, held at Blandford in January 1796 to re-build it upon a design produced by Thomas HARDWICK esq of London, architect.

"The elevation", say the continuators of Hutchins, " is very handsome, light, plain, and simple, and the building will contain every convenience and accommodation which can be required without any superfluidity. Real utility has been the first consideration; and the second has been the most strict economy, consistent with durability and good workmanship.It is a singular circumstance, that the gaol and shire hall for this county should have been built after designs of the two gentlemen who obtained the rewards under the Act of Parliament, called Sir William Blackstone's or the Penitentiary Act, Mr Blackburn and Mr Hardwick, the former of whom gained the prize for the best plan for the male penitentiary house, the latter for that for females."

Like the old county gaol it seems formerly to have been kept in repair at the expense of the corporation, whose revenues, particularly in the early part of the seventeenth century, were considerable.

    " A Note: of what worke Robert WYER is to doe about thye Shirehall the 10th of Aprill, 1638.

    Impremis, to take down and to rid all the foundations of the walles next to the back lane, and next to John TERRIN, and next to the shire hall courte, and to build up both the west and east side walles as high and answerable to the old worke,and to make up a pinion end with water-table the same height the pynion is on the west end of the shirehall, the west and east walles to bee laid with very faire stones and lyme and sand in the outside

    Itm: He is to have all the stones in the old walles, and to build the new worke vas wide as the old worke.

    Itm: Hee is to set up two windows of hamdon stone, with each of them four double lights like those in the fore part of the hall, and to fitt them with irons bars and glasing.

    Itm: He is to place ..... to beare the couples and building betwene the old and new worke, and all other timber answereable as sufficient as the old worke is done and he is to have all the old timber that is to bee taken downe (except the dore lately sett upp, which he is to sett in the new worke)

    Itm: He is to cover it with good white stone band blue slatt, and all thinges els as sufficient and good as the old worke

    Itm: He is to plaister all the walles in the inside with lyme and mortar and haire.

    Itm: He is to damm the old well and to dig a new one where he shall bee appoynted, and to finish it.

    Itm: He is to carry away all the earth and rubble

    For all which he is to have three score pownds, and to be paid thereof in the beginning of the worke thirty pownds, and the rest when the work is finished and performed &c. Watts is to have for a chimney in the pinion end 10's
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    Copy of the lease of the Shire Hall - 1 Oct 1792 :

    " This indenture, made the first day of October in the year of our Lord Christ one thousand seven hundred and ninety two, between the mayor, bailiffs, aldermen and burgesses of the borough of Dorchester, in the county of Dorset, of the one part and William BURNET Esq clerk of the peace of and for the said county, nominated and appointed for the public purposes and upon the trusts hereinafter mentioned, of the other part.

    Whereas at the general quarter sessions of the peace of our Lord the King held by adjournment at Dorchester, in and for the said county on Saturday, the eleventh day of July last past, it was then and there proposed that the ground on which the County Hall is built should be conveyed the the4 corporation of the borough of Dorchester to the county at large for a term of ninety nine years, and that a quit rent of the full value of the ground by way of acknowledgement (that is to say) five pounds per annum should be paid annually to the corporation for the same; that the property of the said buildings should be declared to be in the county, and the expense of all repairs and rebuilding when it should become necessary should be defrayed by the county;

    That it should be stipulated that the corporation should always be allowed the free use of the hall gratis, for the purpose of holding their sessions, public meetings, balls,or any other public entertainments together with a key of the outer door for their greater convenience but to be restricted expressly from letting it to players or to any person or persons whatsoever;

    That the record room should be put under the care and into the custody of the clerk of the peace for the time being and his successors and never to be put to any other use but the purposes for which it is intended;

    That troops on their march or quartered in the town, should be accommodated with the use of the hall for a guard room, and for the lodging of their baggage on an engagement on the part of the commanding officer, that if any damage or nuisance happen,he would defray the expense thereof;

    That the leasehold be made to the justices who were appointed a committee to visit and inspect the state of the hall and their successors as trustees for the county.

    And whereas the said Mayor, bailiffs aldermen and burgesses have since consented and agreed to abate the said quit rent of five pounds per annum and to accept the yearly rent of one pound and one shilling in lieu thereof;

    And whereas at the general quarter sessions of the peace of our Lord King held by adjournment at Dorchester in and for the said county, on Saturday the twenty second day of September last past before David Robert MICHEL, William TOOGOOD, George GOULD, William Morton PITT and Thomas MEGGS Esquires justices of our said lord King assigned to keep the peace of our lord King in and for the said county aforesaid and also to hear and determine divers felonies, trespasses and other misdemeanours, done or perpetrated in the same county, it is ordered the the hereinbefore recited orders should be discharged and that the said lease should be made to the said William BURNET, his executors, adminiostrators and assigns in trust for the inhabitants of the said county of Dorset, for the public purposes therein to be specially mentioned and for no other intent or purpose whatsoever as by the said several proposals and orders of the sessions, reference being thereunto respectively had, may more fully and at large appear;

    Now witness this indenture that in consideration of the neat yearly rent hereby reserved and made payable and the covenants reservations and agreements on the part of the said William BURNET to be observed and performed, the mayor &c. have demised and granted and by these presents do demise and grant unto the said William BURNET all those buildings called and used as the 'County Hall' (1) , with the court yard thereto belonging situate on the north side of the high west street in the parish of Holy Trinity in Dorchester aforesaid, and bounded on the east with the messuage or dwelling house of John NELSON mercer, on the west with a lane called 'Shire Hall Lane', and on the north by a garden, now in the occupation of William BOWER gentleman; and also all that piece or parcel of land hereinafter particularly mentioned and described being part of the said garden now in the occupation of the said William BOWER, as tenant to George STICKLAND (that is to say) twenty-two feet three inches in length from east to west and fourteen feet two inches in breadth from north to south from the north-west end of the present Nisi Prius court, and from east to west adjoining to the aforesaid piece eleven feet nine inches , and in breadth from north to south adjoining to the aforesaid piece six feet nine inches being the land of the said mayor, bailiffs, aldermen and burgesses, together with all ways, paths, passages profits and advantages to the same belonging or appertaining, except and always reserved unto the said mayor, bailiffs, aldermen, and burgesses and their successors and assigns, free liberty to enter use occupy and enjoy all or any part or parts of the said premises (except the record room) for the purposes of holding the quarter sessions for the said borough, electing their representatives in parliament, or doing or executing any public business concerning the said borough, or for the meeting of the children on Sundays, who attend the Sunday school, or for any ball, concert, or any other meeting whatsoever, either for amusement or business, as they the said mayor, bailiffs, aldermen, and burgesse4s their successors or assigns, shall have occasion, during the continuance of the demise (except as in herein mentioned);

    And that one or more keys of the same shall be kept by the said mayor, bailiffs, aldermen or burgesses for the purpose aforesaid.

    Provided always, and it is hereby agreed between the said parties, that such power and right of occupation hereby reserved to the said mayor, bailiffs, aldermen, and burgesses shall not at any time during the continuance of the above demise, be exercised, claimed, or used for the purpose of demising the whole or any part of the said premises or of permitting any strolling players or actors or plays and interludes or the exhibition of any shows or diversion or of any person or persons whatsoever to occupy the whole or any part of the premises for any period of time whatever on any consideration whatever, whether of gain, profit, or advantage, to them the said mayor, bailiffs, aldermen or burgesses, or without such gain, or profit, or advantages (except as aforesaid); to have to hold the said buildings called the County Hall, and all and singular other the premises hereby demised, or intended so to be, with their and every of their appurtenances (except as before is excepted) unto the said William BURNET, his executors administrators and assigns, from the day of the date hereof for and during and unto the full term of ninety-nine years from thence ensuing, and fully to be complete and ended; in trust nevertheless, to and for the uses, intents, and purposes hereinafter mentioned (that is to say), in trust, to, for, and upon the use, intent, and purpose of permitting and suffering the said buildings called the County Hall and premises, from time to time, and at all times during the term hereby demised, to be enjoyed, used, and appropriated as the public County Hall, for all such public purposes to which it has been heretofore usually applied, and for all such other purposes, for the benefit and convenience of the inhabitants of the said county, as he the said said William Burnet, his executors, administrators, and assigns, or the acting magistrates of the said county, assembled at any general quarter sessions, or adjournment thereof, or the majority of the said magistrates so assembled shall direct, order, and appoint, yielding and paying therefore, yearly, and every year, during the said demised term, unto the said mayor, bailiffs, aldermen, and burgesses, their successors and assigns, the rent or sum of one pound and one shilling of lawful money of Great Britain, on the two most usual days of payment (that is to say), the twenty-fourth day of June, and the twenty fifth day of December, by equal portions, the first payment thereof to be made on the twenty fifth day of December next ensuing the date of these presents; and if it shall happen, that the said yearly rent of one pound and one shilling, or any part thereof, be unpaid for the space of twenty eight days next after either of the said days of payment, on which the same is to be paid as aforesaid, the same having been lawfully demanded of the treasurer or treasurers of the said county, or of the said clerk of the peace for the said county, and no sufficient distress, or goods liable to be distrained, can or may be found on the premises, whereby to satisfy such rent and arrears thereof (if any be), that then, and in such case, it shall be lawful for the said mayor, bailiffs, aldermen, and burgesses, their successors and assigns, into and upon the said demised premises to re-enter, and the same to hold, re-possess, and enjoy, and the term hereby granted and demised shall cease, determine, and become void, any thing herein-before contained to the contrary notwithstanding.

    And the said William Burnet, for himself, his executors, administrators, and assigns, doth hereby covenant, promise, and agree, to and with the said mayor, bailiffs, aldermen, and burgesses, ' their successors and assigns, that he the said William Burnet, his executors, administrators, and assigns, shall and will well and truly pay, or ; cause to be paid, unto the said mayor, bailiffs, aldermen, and burgesses, their successors or as signs, the said yearly rent of one pound and one shilling herein-before reserved, at the times and in manner aforesaid; and further, that he the said William Burnet, his executors, administrators, and assigns, shall and will well and sufficiently repair, support, uphold, sustain, maintain, amend, and keep, or cause and procure to be sufficiently repaired, supported, upheld, sustained, maintained, amended, and kept, the said building called the County Hall, and premises, and every part thereof, in, by, and with all and all manner of needful and necessary reparations and amendments whatsoever, when, where, and as often as need or occasion shall be or require during the term hereby demised, except such injury and damage that may at any time or times, during the term hereby demised, arise or happen to the said buildings called the County Hall and premises, or any part thereof, by the use and enjoyment thereof, which the said mayor, bailiffs, aldermen, and burgesses, may at any time have or exercise, under the exception and reservation herein-before mentioned and specified; and the said mayor, bailiffs, aldermen, and burgesses, for themselves, their successors, and assigns, do hereby covenant, to and with the said William Burnet, his executors, administrators, and assigns, that they the said mayor, bailiffs, aldermen, and burgesses, their successors and assigns, will at all times hereafter, during the said term, repair and make good, or cause to be repaired and made good, any damage, wrong, or injury, that may arise or happen to the said hereby demised premises, for or by reason of their using or enjoying the same, pursuant to the reservations herein-before contained; and that, under the rents, covenants, reservations, and agreements herein before contained, it shall and may be lawful to and for the said William Burnet, his executors, administrators, and assigns, peaceably to hold and enjoy the hereby demised premises, during the said term, without the interruption or dis turbance of or by them the said mayor, bailiffs, aldermen, and burgesses, their successors, or assigns. In witness whereof, the parties first above-named to these presents have hereunto interchangeably set their hands and seals, the day and year first above-written." (L. S.) The corporation seal.


Genealogical Notes:-

(1). The location of the County Hall at the date Hutchins made this entry can be seen on the Map of Dorchester dated 1771. As shown in the index provided - it is identified on the map by the lower case letter "e" . Shire Hall Lane is identified on the same map by the upper case letter "I" and runs along the left land side of the building


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