The Guild House of the Brotherhood of St John the Baptist



High Street

Document typed by Jackie Embury from Miss Hislop's handwritten green book owned by Janet Chennells


In the middle of the 15th Century the Guild of St John the Baptist was formed in Ashwell.  The movement had its headquarters in the High Street, and here on the south side of the street there is still a timbered range with remains of pargetted decoration which was probably St John’s Guild Hall.  Here, local members would worship and would display their craftsmanship, as they strove to produce a masterpiece in their own particular trade.

After the Reformation, the Duke of Clarence was appointed Commissioner for Hertfordshire, and was given the task of disestablishing the religious foundations of the area.  His term of office was short, and he met with a violent death by drowning.

What happened to the meeting-hall, with its Guild-hall between then and the 19th Century is not known with any certainty.  One hundred years ago the Guild-house was occupied by a carrier who used to take local wares up to London in his horse-drawn carriage.  Toward the end of the last century (1800's) the Guild-hall was turned into five cottages owned by Mrs Beresford of Ashwell End.  These were renovated and the carvings very skilfully restored.

This page was added on 29/07/2011.
Comments about this page

This is Miss Hislop's story and obviously agrees with village folklore. However the Duke of Clarence died in 1478 and according to other village stories he was a patron of the Guild and was present at the founding feast in 1475. The house to the east now called the Guild House was not part of the original building.

By Peter Greener
On 29/07/2011

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