Guildhall Heritage Centre

Photo of Tavistock Guildhall

History of the Guildhall

The Guildhall was the one of the first purpose-built combined police station, fire station and courthouse in the country. It was built in 1848 on the orders of Francis Russell 7th Duke of Bedford, to cope with the rising crime rate in Tavistock brought on by the 19th century mining boom.

The police station finally closed in 2012 and Tavistock Town Council acquired the Grade II* building in 2014 from the Devon Historic Buildings Trust (DHBT). Thanks to the generous funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and other donors, along with support from Tavistock Heritage Trust, the Council undertook an extensive renovation and restoration project to rescue the building from further decline, and to bring it back into active use. The Guildhall finally re-opened its doors in December 2021 as the Tavistock Guildhall Heritage Centre, an official Key Centre within the UNESCO Cornwall & West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site.

Tavistock Guildhall Heritage Centre - the eastern gateway centre to the Cornwall & West Devon Mining Landscape UNESCO World Heritage Site.

At 19,710 hectares over ten Areas, crossing from Cornwall into Devon, the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape (‘Cornish Mining’) World Heritage Site is the largest industrial World Heritage Site in the UK, with multiple owners and management interests and around 90,000 residents. 

As one of three Cornish Mining World Heritage Key Centres, the others being Geevor and Heartlands, the Guildhall introduces visitors to Tavistock’s role (Area 10) in both the World Heritage Site and the wider South West mining landscape, including the Tamar Valley and Dartmoor. Through interactive displays visitors can learn about Tavistock’s international architectural and historical significance and be stimulated to explore the town and nearby heritage sites either on their own or by participating in one of the activities provided by the Guildhall staff and volunteers. These heritage facilities are managed by Tavistock Town Council in partnership with Tavistock Heritage Trust.

The interpretation centre themes include:
  • World Heritage Site and Dartmoor mining landscape
  • Development of Tavistock - architecture and buildings
  • Policing and justice - preservation of the courtroom in its original condition including an area designated as a Police and Magistrates' museum 

The Guildhall is also home to the town’s Visitor Information Centre and a stunning Victorian courtroom which has been restored and converted into a unique events venue.

Tavistock Guildhall has a unique position as a centre-point for guided walks, lectures, workshops, courses and fun events, enabling young and old to absorb and enjoy the region’s fascinating heritage.

For more information on Tavistock Guildhall Heritage Centre please visit the website

For more information on the Cornish and West Devon Mining World Heritage Site please visit their website 

For more information on Tavistock Heritage Trust please visit their website 

Guildhall Court Room