St. Mary’s Guild Hall is one of the finest surviving medieval guildhalls in England. It was first built in the 1340s and enlarged and embellished at the end of the fifteenth century.
The guildhall originally served as the headquarters of the merchant guild of St Mary, and subsequently of the united guilds of the Holy Trinity, St Mary, St John the Baptist and St Katherine. Following the suppression of the chantries and religious guilds under King Edward VI, it served for a time as the city’s armoury and as its treasury. It was the headquarters for administration for the city council until the Council House opened in 1920.
On the instructions of Queen Elizabeth I, her cousin Mary Queen of Scots was held for a while in the Mayoress’s Parlour in St Mary’s Guild Hall.
The Guild Hall’s main attraction is the Great Hall, with its stained glass windows, ceiling of carved angels and one of Britain’s most important tapestries dating from around 1500. The building also retains a collection of royal portraits from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, arms and armour, fine stained glass and many works of art.