The Hall was built on the site of the Talbot Inn, mentioned in Izaak Walton's and Charles Cotton's "The Complete Angler". The book records a conversation at the Inn between travellers: "what will you drink Sir, ale or wine?" and the reply was "Nay, I am for the country liquor, Derbyshire ale, if you please; for a man shall not methinks come from London to drink wine in the Peak".
The building is faced with ashlar stone with the over-fussy decorative embellishments typical of the mid-Victorian period.
A purpose-built meeting room was first suggested in 1852, and was combined with a proposal to build a Market Hall. Subscriptions were collected and various premises in the Market place were considered, but the scheme was postponed through lack of sufficient funds. A number of local tradesmen formed a trust to purchase a property in St John’s Street, which was rebuilt as a lecture and meeting room (now St John’s Gallery and Café). The Market or Town Hall went ahead as a separate project and, eventually, another property was purchased in the Market Place and rebuilt as the Market Hall. The stone pediment shows the date 1861 along with the names of the Trustees.
The Hall was built on the site of the Talbot Inn, mentioned in Izaak Walton's and Charles Cotton's "The Compleat Angler". In the book, Piscator Junior and Viator stopped here for a drink on horseback before heading for the River Dove at Milldale; an early form of a "drive through".
The building continues to be used for entertainment and for special markets, and the Town's Council Chamber is at the rear of the building.
There are 2 milestones on either side of the entrance to the Market (Town) Hall. One is Georgian and was erected during the coaching era; the other is modern and commemorates the passage of the Olympic torch through Ashbourne in 2012. Can you guess why they both refer to London, but the distances are different?
Alongside the Market Hall is Town Hall Yard. If you walk through the tunnel entrance, you will find a typical mid-Victorian development of workers’ cottages. The Town Council Chamber and Ashbourne Partnership offices are accessed from this yard, which leads through to Hall Lane.