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(June 19, 1912.
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Our Weekly Illustrated feature.
When & atranger, after the manner of wch, aaka you, being a ritiaen, to point ont vour . Town Hall, you take him to U* most hmtcric V* in &he High-street, and point to 1 building of grey stone, Laving ,*> pr to architectural beauty, fronted with a rather handiome ircn gate, and bearing above : ous little iron balcony. It may obance that the stranger knows Birmingham, Leeds, Cardiff, or Portsmouth, and he shrugs his shoulders, if he is a plain man, indicates that he doe* not think a great deal of it. With pattern* for the limitation of his outlook you menti caeunlly that a real, modern- Town llail something which may materialise in the not far distant future, 011 the Mar lands or somewhere else, and that meanwhile, whatev,
look like, the preeent Audit House lias at least
and that its earlier history was deemed worthy of investigation by the groat Lelaikd, who was "King's Antiquary" to Henry VIII., and whose records are in the Bodleian Library and tlie British Museum.
The stranger may ask why a place devoted to the town's purpose is called an Audit House, and vcu quote Leland again, for he speaks of there being a house in the High-street in 1471 "for the keeping of accounts." The stranger must be told that long years before the complicated civic machine was evolved, before Georgian publicist* framed the Municipal Corporation Act, before even the limited measure of local government which Tudor times gave us came into being, the Mayor was Unrepresentative of the King, charged with the good order and the upkeep of the
the duty to
the high*
build up the «» wall, to keep up the defences, and to perform, practically unaided, a host of other duties which involved thj spending of money, and the Audit House was where he kept bis accounts. Not in the present building, of course, for that is fairly modem, but upon or near that site. As a matter of fact the first Audit House, altered and improved several times, was removed entirely in 1771, and further land purchased, from an Alderman of the Corporation, for 431,305, upon which to erect civic headquarters worthy of the town. That Audit House coat £7,000, and the first stone was laid by the then Mayor, Mr. Edward Noble, over a hundred and thirty years ago. We have the authority of the Re*. Sylvester Da vies, Southampton's historian, ffcfr saying that the Audit House of IhsGsorgiom period was quite up to thejovel, architecturally, of similar buildings in other towns. At tl»t time the lower part of the Audit House was
and when the new building aroae the id* the local authority waa to conamtrate the whole of the local market upon that site. The innovation was not very popular, indeed so much feeling waa aroused at the time that there waa a plot, if not an actual attempt, to bum the whole place down. Lakr the presence of market* beneath the centre of cino authority became undemmhle, and they were swept into the hark atrwta, the pig market, fonnerly held In front of Holy Rood Church, being the last to go, the whole building being adapted to the uses of local government. There have berai a good many structural alterations during the last hundred years; the moat important being the scheme of Sir Jamas lamcn, U** borough engineer, which gar* the Audit Howe its preeent appearance, the completed building being opened by the then Mayor, Mr. W. H. Rogers, in 1880. . ...
But the chief interest in the Audit House ** within. The pn*ent
of which Councillor* bare laddy been com-plaining aa being too small, waa evidently at one time much too large, for when it waa built meeting, (d the Council were held in one «d the room, at the beck, and the Chamber waa only used for banquet* and public gatherings.
Tk*gh devoted m these daya W aererely utilitarian purposes, the Council Chamber con tains much that ia intending, if generally un-noticed. That some of the Councillor* are oh-lirmua to their surroundings *aa ahown the other day, when the old colours of the South
HIS WORSHIP THE MAYOR (Councillor Henry Bowyer, R.N.R.).
[" Pictorial " Photos.
Hants Volunteer* were hung in the Chamber. Thm it was that a member asked which of two old odours was the more recent acquisition, though the other one had be«i in its place for years. There is an old sword—a big two-hander—which the Court Leet suggested should be brrao ceremonially before the Mayor on State occasions, a purpose to whidh, vide the antiquaries, it was formerly derated. *The pictures and portraits which line the walk are full of historic interest. There ia a fine one of the late King Edward, another of Queen Victoria, coronet ted and wearing the broad ribbon of an illustrious Order, a third of Dibdin, the sailors' poet, besides those of many Mayors, and Town Clerks, and public men. including Mr. A. L. McCalmont's, Southampton'a youngest Mayor, and others who preceded and followed him. There is one of Garibaldi, on the stairway, presented by Sir Frederick Perkins, another of Sir Frederick himself, five times Mayor, and a likeness of another Mayor, who also served as chief magistrate five times —Mr. Richard Andrews.
A painting of the "departure of the Mayflower" in 1630 always attracts attention by the ridweaa of its colouring, while a portrait group of members of the Council in 1894 shows what ul-anges in "personnel" the passage of the years bring about. Then there is a "Deed of the Black Prince," dated the 14th century, and sane instructive chart*** in quaint archaic language.
At Uie rear of the Council Chamber a hand-to and sunny room is full of treasure, including the magnificent silver candelabra, which a the gift of the late Alderman S. Emanuel, big landscape by Paul Brill, a couple of animal paintings by ltosa do Tivoli, together with portraits, medallions, and many other objects which hare com* into the possession of us Mayors and been passed on by them to t^ieir successors. In the Mayor's Parlour 'gs the yellowing parchment on which ia in-soribed the names of Mayors of Southampton from the date in tlie early 14th osntury, a roll of honour which is worth studying, since it ia epitome of local hiatory extending over fire hundred years.
3 mere list of civic treasures is impree-Tliero is the case of old ooins (the bequest of Andrew Means, of Millbrook), presented on the 9th November in every year to Mayor; another oak < bound chest contain-ng a silver gilt dessert service, presented by the town to the late Mr. Edwin J owes in 1875, and handed hack to the Corporation a year or two ago by his widow; the Mayor's attain, the gift of Beeches Baril in 1798; the Mayoress's chain, presented by former Mayoresses in 1910; the SheaifT* chain, the gift of the late Mr. W. G. Lankester; while the ancient and historic maces and the oar of Admiralty, the subject of one of our pictures, must not be forgotten, nor the pointings of recant Mayors, fine pieces of portraiture, which adorn the staircase.
Mtei of tlie ancient roccsds have, of. course, been eaUmcW from in reoent times by the Iteoord thcWy, notably those relating to the Court Lest, but there are plenty of others. The Corporation journals and assembly books aavar every cuvuivable matter of local usage, from the attitude of the townsfolk during the struggle between the King and Parliament, to the settling of disputes betwewi tradesmen. Thece is a reference to the dismissal of a former Town Clerk, to the closing of tho churches, the settlement of matrimonial disputes, tho proclamation ul successive Kings, and tho considerable jollification which at those times took place, generally, by the way, at the cost of the town, and an endless variety of other matters which have been set forth at length in the various histories. There also are the names of tho many distinguished men who were bur-gt-ases, William Pitt, then Chancellor of tho Exchequer, being not the least of them, the record, in 1784, of tho last public hanging in tho town, the history of the Mayor's chain and maces, of the relief fund for the widows of the slain at Waterloo, of the problem of water supply, which apparently wo have always with us, and countless other matters.
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