Moot Hall, Aldeburgh
Publisher: Shurey’s Publications (1903-1927)
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The Aldeburgh Moot Hall is a Grade I listed timber-framed building, used for council meetings for over 400 years. The Town Clerk’s office remains there and it houses the local museum. It was built in about 1520 and altered in 1654. The brick and stone infilling of the ground floor is later. The hall was restored and the external staircase and gable ends were rebuilt in 1854–1855 under the direction of R. M. Phipson, chief architect of the Diocese of Norwich, in which Aldeburgh then stood.
The Moot Hall in Aldeburgh is believed to be one of the best preserved Tudor public buildings in Britain. . . . There is no exact date for the construction of this building, but best-guess estimates put it at 1550. Moot Hall sits on the seafront in Aldeburgh, with a huge pebble beach behind it stretching out to a cold, grey sea. It is quite remarkable to look at, with its timber frame, red bricks and tiled roof looking somewhat incongruous next to the colourful seaside villas and wooden shacks, lobster pots and fish stalls that fill the area. Now famous as a music and arts holiday destination, Moot Hall harks back to a time when Aldeburgh was a prosperous Tudor town of traders and ship builders.
The term ‘Moot Hall’ was used only from the nineteenth century as part of the Victorian mock-Tudor restoration. The building was always referred to in earlier documents as the ‘Town Hall’. The word ‘Moot’ derives from the Saxon word for ‘a meeting’. . . .In the 16th century an open-sided polygonal market cross stood across to the North of the Moot Hall, and there was also a large market hall nearby. Fresh food and other everyday commodities would have been sold from these stalls by peripatetic traders: vegetables and fruit, bread, meat and fish. Although no one knows exactly what was sold from the Town Hall shops, records number several shoemakers and tailors working in the town, together with barbers, coopers, grocers, beer-brewers a shipwright and a ‘hockemaker’ (the maker of those all-important hooks for suspending vessels over the fire). The original layout of the ground floor included dividing walls between six shops – each shop would have been self-contained and entered by its own door. Large arched windows which contained no glass but were closed by inside shutters at night provided necessary light.