Manchester Town Hall

The Return of Some Favourite Themes by Sasha Ward

The Great Hall, Manchester Town Hall - between weddings - with 4 of 12 murals painted by Ford Madox Brown between 1879 & 1893. Click on all images to enlarge.

Since I discovered that I have in my bedroom a chair "possibly designed by FMB", see previous blog entry, I have been very keen on Ford Madox Brown. On my recent trip to Manchester I managed - between weddings - to get in to the Great Hall of Manchester Town Hall to see the murals that he painted there towards the end of his life. However, as I approached the hall via one of the magnificent staircases, I was so absorbed by others aspects of the building's interior decoration that I couldn't concentrate on the paintings.

Great Hall Foyer, photo by Michael D. Beckwith.  Block of 6 stained glass panels. 

The first thing was the roof, simply glazed to my great delight with "brown and yellow windows", see another previous blog entry, of my favourite type, with no lead just brown paint and silver stain. The inscription on the glass reads "THE MAYORS MANCHESTER FROM THE YEAR OF INCORPORATION TO THE OPENING OF THE BUILDING " with names and dates from 1838 to 2003, well after the opening of the building. The lettering changes over the years but the cotton plant does not.

Staircase windows

Then there are the windows. They admit a beautiful quality of light to the interior of the building, including the Great Hall itself, where there is a complete set of delicately coloured stained glass windows. Here I found a favourite motif, see yet another previous blog entry, the wonderfully decorative horse chestnut leaf.

Details from the 3 window types in The Great Hall (in my order of preference).

Wandering around the corridors and into the public rooms on the first floor I came across mosaic floors, painted walls, textiles, carvings and patterned ceilings. The work was carried out by at least three different firms but all, including the lettering, said to have been designed by the architect of The Town Hall, Alfred Waterhouse.

In the south vestibule, horse chestnut motif around the door frame and original patterned ceiling.