The Guildhall Arts Centre is a community-centred venue that offers innovative, stimulating and quality arts experiences in what once was Grantham's town hall, jail and sessions hall. The Arts Centre has a strong programme of popular touring shows, including theatre, cinema, comedy, and dance, hosts an annual Christmas Pantomime, and is also a hub for workshops and community activities throughout the year.
'under the clock' - The Guildhall's History
The original Guildhall was made up of three separate buildings – the main building which housed a ballroom and courtroom (or session’s hall), a governor’s residence and a jail for up to 18 men and women on two floors.
The Guildhall and jail on St Peter’s Hill in Grantham was commissioned in 1866 by Mayor Thomas Winter after criminal Jesse Dale, who was serving 15 years for stealing, twice walked out of the town’s original jail in 1864.
At the height of World War I, the jail in the Guildhall was resurrected and the first female officer to have full powers of arrest, Edith Smith, joined the Grantham force and was based there.
The new Guildhall was also home to the four-sided clock that was the first time many of the town’s residents would have had the luxury of telling the time with any accuracy. This fact coined the local phrase ‘under the clock’ meaning, ‘to appear in court’.