About Devonport Guildhall and Column

A building with a diverse history and an exciting future


Devonport Guildhall, located in the historic district of Devonport, has a rich and varied history that reflects the changing needs and aspirations of the community it serves. Designed by architect John Foulston and constructed in the mid-19th century, the Guildhall was initially established as a municipal administrative centre, serving as the headquarters for local government affairs.

Over the years, it also functioned as a courthouse, where justice was administered, and as a venue for public meetings and gatherings. The Guildhall also played a significant role during World War II, serving as a hub for civil defence efforts and providing a sense of community resilience.

More recently, the Guildhall stands as a symbol of cultural heritage and social enterprise, having been renovated and repurposed by Real Ideas to accommodate a diverse range of events, exhibitions and business support.

The adjoining Column was built with the permission of King George IV in between 1824 and 1827 to commemorate the establishment of Devonport as a separate town. This 124ft structure has also provided many services to the Devonport community including a WWII fire watch. The Column is currently closed to the public while it undergoes electrical works.


Over 15 years ago Real Ideas first reimagined what the Guildhall could be, transforming it into a hub for social enterprise and community activity.  

Like many public buildings Devonport Guildhall had to close during Covid, as we moved into periods of on and off lockdowns and guidance asked us to remain at home. Since then, the building has reawaken with eco markets, health and wellbeing and mental health events hosted onsite. The fortnightly Red Velvet Cinema Club also takes place in our Parlour, showing classic films with tea and cake. We also have an onsite café run by the wonderful, family operated vegan food producers Hedgerow Hound.


Since Covid, the way people use spaces has changed dramatically, less people have dedicated office space and the cost of living has gone up, all this in amongst a climate crisis, but what does this all mean for the future of heritage spaces like the Guildhall

How do we redesign the use of beautiful grade 1 listed sites like this so they remain useful to the communities that surround them, and people can still explore and connect with their local heritage? How do we ensure heritage buildings are contributing to net zero goals, becoming more environmentally friendly and economically sustainable?

These are the questions that Real Ideas and the Nature and Neighbourhoods unit are currently exploring. We want to ensure Devonport Guildhall continues to be an integral part of the community, fostering a sense of unity and offering a space for people to come together and celebrate the vibrant history of Devonport, for future generations.

Stay tuned for more…