Pearl of Newbury – The Corn Exchange

| 20 April 2021
News

Taking a short walk from Pearl House you will find Newbury’s Corn exchange a majestic Grade II listed building situated in the historic marketplace. This building is much loved locally for the many activities and productions the venue provides today but it has always supported the community since it opened for trade in 1861.

The growing of grain around Newbury has been an important source of prosperity for many centuries, possibly back to prehistoric times. A great income for landowners and the town itself. The Charter granted to Newbury in 1581 by Queen Elizabeth I allowed the Mayor, Alderman and Burgesses to charge a toll on all corn sold in its markets. It is likely that corn was sold in the Market Place, in the open or shelter of the Guildhall, which stood there from 1611 to 1828.

In the 19th century, the importance of the grain trade saw Reading architect J.S. Dodd appointed to design the Corn Exchange building. Work began in 1861 and the building was opened on 4th June 1862. Merchants and farmers selling or buying corn congregated in the large open hall. A wool market was also held annually. Corn dealing in the Corn Exchange gradually declined until only one token desk came out on Market day. As something of a social event for the local farmers and dealers, other dealings were introduced, including oil, insurance and farm machinery. This finally ceased in 1983.

Throughout its life the Corn Exchange has been a major public building in Newbury. Its original prime purpose has been superseded by its secondary function as a venue for major public events in the town. After closing for four years, the Corn Exchange reopened in September 1993 after a £3.5 million refurbishment programme as a professional 400-seat theatre.

Today the Corn Exchange receives more than 100,000 visitors a year from across the region and hosts all manner of events, including the fantastic Newbury Spring Festival. We hope you will enjoy its events when you make a move to Peal House.