Skip to content
Friends of the Willis Museum Logo

A registered charity that promotes, supports, assists and helps improve the Willis Museum in Basingstoke.

History of the Museum Building

As explained elsewhere our building was the Basingstoke Town Hall until the mid-1970s.

  • The building you see today replaced the original Mote Hall (meeting place) where Jane Austen attended dances. The Mote Hall was sold at auction in May 1832, pulled down and disposed of, realising £129/17/9d after all costs were deducted, including £46 for the lead roof alone.
  • The replacement Town Hall was designed by Lewis Wyatt between 1828 and 1832. He was paid £296. He also worked on Hackwood House.
  • The original version of the plans was considered too ambitious so a modified version was produced in 1829.
  • It was built by Messrs Howard and Nixon of London at a cost of £4396 and eventually became the building that we know today.
  • The original Town Hall was open on the ground floor, the area serving as the Corn Exchange and Market until the new Corn Exchange was built. Upstairs in the building there were office facilities, the Town Hall, magistrates’ rooms and a Council Room.
  • The ground floor was enclosed in 1864 which allowed more space for offices and functions.
  • In 1887 the original clock tower was removed and replaced by Colonel John May’s rather more extravagant, and perhaps out of scale, version. This in turn was demolished as an allegedly unsafe structure in 1961. One of the clock faces is on display in the Museum.
  • The new Civic Offices were built in 1975, and the Old Town Hall was left empty until 1984 when the Willis Museum moved into the building.