Tiverton Town Hall was designed by Henry Lloyd, who also designed Exeter St David’s railway station. It was built by Samuel Garth, who was Mayor of Tiverton from 1861 to 1862, and was opened in May 1864. Some of the paintings in the Town Hall, however, are far older than the building. Many of these would have also been displayed in the Guildhall, which was demolished to allow the present building to be erected.
Of the pictures on display, one is Henry John Temple (1784–1865), 3rd Viscount Palmerston, KG, GCB, PC, Prime Minister (1835–1865), by William Thomas Roden. Palmerston was one of two MPs for the area. He was the first Liberal Prime Minister and indeed was Prime Minister when the building was opened. For many years, there was a hotel in Fore Street in Tiverton which carried his name.
In the Mayoralty Room is Sir John Heathcoat, Esq., JP, MP for Tiverton (1832–1859), painted by an unknown artist. At the age of 32 he bought a redundant mill in the town and set up the Heathcoat Lace Factory. This was to be one of the most significant events in the town’s history. As John Heathcoat prospered so did Tiverton. Many of the houses in the area were built by Heathcoat for his workers and he even built a school so that when the young people came to work in the factory they were able to read and write. There are a number of pictures of the Heathcoat-Amory family on the walls of the Town Hall.
Sir Joshua Reynolds’ painting George III (1738–1820) takes pride of place, looking over those who attend meetings and functions in the Mayoralty Room. The Mayoralty Room also contains pictures of two ships, one of which, HMS ‘Enterprise’, is executed in watercolour and so is not reproduced here. HMS 'Hermes' after Conversion to a Commando Carrier and Anti-Submarine Helicopter Ship is painted by John Webster. HMS 'Hermes' was a sister ship to HMS 'Ark Royal' and was given the Freedom of Tiverton. When the ship was decommissioned, its bell was presented to the council and now sits in the Mayoralty Room. In more recent times, HMS 'Enterprise' became affiliated with Tiverton. Built in Appledore and based in Plymouth, HMS 'Enterprise' was also given the Freedom of Tiverton.