The current building was originally part of Totnes Priory, which had been established by Juhel de Totnes, feudal baron of Totnes. Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries by King Henry VIII in the 1540s, his successor, King Edward VI, granted Totnes a charter, in 1553, allowing one of the former priory buildings, which had been used as the monks’ refectory, to be converted into a guildhall. Part of the first floor of the building was converted for use as a magistrates’ court in 1624. Soldiers were billeted in the building during the English Civil War: the council chamber at the west end of the first floor hosted a meeting between Oliver Cromwell and Thomas Fairfax at the oak tables there in 1646. The lower hall was used as a public meeting room as evidenced by the names of over 600 town mayors, who have served since 1359, listed on its walls. After prison cells had been built in the basement, the building was also used as the town gaol until 1887. The building was extended to the east by the addition of a loggia in front of the original building in 1897: the extension was designed with Doric order columns which had been recovered from the Exchange which had been demolished in 1878.
Circa 1553, reconstructed in 1624 (wall tablet)and extensively altered in 1829. On the site of the Benedictine Priory of St Mary founded by Judhael in 1086. After the Dissolution in 1536 the greater part of the priory church of St Mary was adapted for use as the parish church (qv), and the convential buildings, on the north side, were granted to Walter Smythe and, in 1553, to the Town Council who incorporated them in the new Guildhall buildings. The Courtroom appears to be on the site of the monastic refectory and retains some of the original window openings.