The Corn Exchange is a Grade II* Listed Building in the centre of Dorchester. The Building is two storeys with walls of Broadmayne brick with Bath and Portland stone dressings and a tile of slate roof over. The building was designed by Benjamin Ferrey (who also designed All Saints’ Church and the old County Hospital in the town) and erected in 1847-48 by the builder Samuel Slade.
The building replaced an earlier town hall of 1792 which stood a little further west with an arched passageway into North Square.
The building originally comprised a corn exchange, assembly hall and council chamber. Later in the 19th century a new market and police station were added to the north.
The clock turret was added to the building in 1864. It is known as ‘Galpin’s Folly’, after Mayor Galpin who partly paid for it and who approved Benjamin Ferrey’s designs for a tower on a slender pillar. There was public concern that the tower would fall off. It hasn’t yet!
The Corn Exchange showing the distinctive clock tower known as “Galpins Folly”
The Council Chamber features a plaque dedicated to each town mayor.
The original listing of the building describes it as follows:-
l847-8. Clock tower: l864 (at which time the original lantern on roof was removed). Portal: 1876. Architect: Benjamin Ferrey. Builder: Samuel Slade. Former Town Hall. Broadmayne brick, with ashlar limestone dressings (Bath above, Portland below).
Pitched tile roof with moulded ashlar gable coping and polygonal finials. Moulded ashlar eaves cornice with crenellated parapet. 5 mullion and transom windows with iron glazing bars on 1st floor. 4 pointed arches with hoodmoulds on ground floor, originally an open market, now glazed.
Central gabled portal on colonettes with crocketed capitals, carrying relief of Borough Arms.
South west corner has oriel turret with chamfered corners taken on polygonal clasping buttress and squinches with traceried panels: band of traceried panelling at eaves Level: corbelled-out bulge at clocks’ level: lead spire with sprocketed eaves, half- hipped lucarnes and weather vane.
West elevation has 2 arches at ground floor level, and segmental 2 storey oriel above with crenellated parapet, panelled centre section and fixed windows with glazing bars. 2 storey extension in similar style to rear.
Its neo-Tudor detail and (especially on west front) its predominant verticals resemble Clyffe Hall, Tincleton, more than Ferrey’s other work in Dorset.