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The Moot Hall, 25 Market Place

“I was the original old Town Hall, built around 1570. Upstairs were my fancy rooms, for the mayor and his advisers, and the court hearings were held there too. Thieves and thugs were kept downstairs in small cells – it was too crowded and it was cold, because there was no heating. The cells opened onto the street, so at least the prisoners could beg for food as they were always hungry and thirsty. Sometimes they were lucky – people would pass them a pint which also meant some of my inmates arrived quite tipsy at their court hearings.
The smell coming from the street was awful, especially after Market Day, the pigs and sheep were penned just outside, but actually the smell from inside was not much better. The men’s day-room was a small dark closet, lit only by a hole at the top of the room. Most days there was hardly any difference between day and night.
Then, in the late 1820s they decided I was too small and not flash enough for the Council and a new town hall was built across the road. I was then sold at auction and the founders of the Herts Advertiser newspaper moved in. It was here the first issue was published on the 7th of July 1855. Now there is the newsagent of course. Sometimes ghosts still visit to scare the staff, drop books or whisper my stories of the past.”

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