Funded primarily by the National Lottery Heritage Fund along with Cadw, the Welsh Government and other bodies, the Grade II Listed Building has been restored to its original glory to tell the remarkable story of this ancient hilltop town.
For the past eight years Llantrisant Town Trust, a charity of volunteers, has worked tirelessly to breathe new life into the old timbers of the 14th century building which stands in the shadow of its neighbouring ruined Norman castle.
Hundreds of people flocked to the Guildhall on its opening weekend which also included a full-scale medieval fayre and knights in combat on the adjacent castle green to celebrate the exciting new community hub and activities base.
The restoration and transformation would not have been possible without £1million funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Richard Bellamy, Director for Wales of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, this beautiful building has been granted a new lease of life, enabling it to become an invaluable community building once again, fit for the 21st century. The historic Guildhall has an incredibly rich and fascinating history, and this vital transformation will enable it to prosper for many more years to come.”
The Guildhall was the centre of power which governed an ancient borough for almost 700 years to execute the rights and privileges of the town’s Charter presented in May 1346 by the Lord of Glamorgan.
Since then it has been in constant use by the Freemen of Llantrisant who ruled the borough for centuries. The Guildhall was used as Llantrisant’s first national school, as a meeting place for the Baptist movement and enjoyed a long history as a court of law.
Rebuilt in 1773 it governed the adjoining market and fairs and boasted a cornmarket in the lower floor next to a set of cells that remained in constant use for prisoners until the 1870s.
During the past eight years it has undergone a massive restoration project has been restored to the very highest conservation standards. The large medieval chimney has been rebuilt to its original height, and the roof completed in new Welsh slate.
The main floor has been rebuilt, and extensive timber repairs carried out to the roof structure. New and refurbished windows and doors have been installed, and the exterior walls and porch have been completely repaired and renovated.
Present at the launch was Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas who helped secure additional funding through the Welsh Government for the completion of the building.
He said: “This is undoubtedly my greatest before and after experience of the refurbishment of an historic building.
“When I first came here I was shocked, I remember the quality of the lath and plaster and not dare to walk across this very floor.
“You have achieved so much and this is down to the enthusiasm and devotion of those individuals who dedicated their time, without whom nothing would be possible.
“Cadw was delighted to be able to contribute to this achievement. May I congratulate you all in old Llantrisant for recognising your history and how important it is to put a new life into historic buildings
“The history of Wales is not about rebuilding redundant buildings. The celebration is when our historic buildings are used in the present and there is no better example than this Guildhall in Llantrisant. “
The Guildhall now has the opportunity to become central to the community of Llantrisant once again by boosting the local economy as it welcomes more visitors to the town and wider county borough.
It houses a plethora of unique treasures, including the solid silver Mace of 1633 which survived the Civil War and is older than the one in the House of Commons.
A full-scale exhibition of the life of cremation pioneer Dr William Price sits alongside the life-size mannequin of a Llantrisant archer who fought at the Battle of Crecy in 1346.
A wide range of interactive displays are available alongside many unique artefacts including the 18th century longcase clock made in Llantrisant and a portrait of the Llantrisant-born Lord Mayor of London Sir David Evans which has been in storage in Cardiff Mansion House for decades.
The refurbished landmark will also host a wide variety of community events, including exhibitions, conferences, weddings, activities, guest speaking programmes, concerts, private parties and school visits.
The building will be available for hire and the adjacent Castle Green will host more community-based activities, open air concerts and cinema.
Llantrisant Guildhall Restoration Project is being made possible due to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Cadw, Garfield Weston Foundation, Welsh Church Act Fund, Visit Wales, Llantrisant Community Council, Llantrisant Town Trust and public donations, and professional support has been given by Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council.