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Your Borough Of Poole

The Guildhall & Registration

The Guildhall

One of Poole's most historic and well-known landmarks, the Guildhall, re-opened its doors to the public as the Poole's Register Office in 2007. The Grade 2 listed building, which dates back to the 18th Century, has been restored to its former glory by a major renovation project funded by the borough, providing a new venue for weddings, civil partnerships and other civic ceremonies.

To make an appointment to register a Birth, Death, Marriage or Civil Partnership please telephone: 01202 633744

For general enquiries, or to order a copy certificate of Birth, Death, Marriage or Civil Partnership please telephone: 01202 633745

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Where to find us

Parking at the Guildhall is restricted to ceremonial vehicles only. However there is a multi-storey car park and a pay-and-display car park on Hill Street and a multi-storey car park on Old Orchard. 

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Why registration began

The need to record the important events in someone's life can be traced back to the region of Henry VIII. In 1538 a local system of registration based on christenings, marriages and burials was introduced by Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's Lord Chancellor. The Clergy of each parish were ordered to keep a book which recorded all baptisms, marriages and burials. In 1597 special registers were bought by each parish and for the first time annual returns were to be sent to a diocesan registrar.

An Act of 1666 complicated the job of registering burials in that all bodies had to be buried 'in a woodland shroud' - this for the sake of the duty on woo. After each burial an oath was made which confirmed this.

Then in 1753 an act was passed which made it illegal for marriages to take place unless banns had been read or a licence issued in the parish where the bride and groom lived. This meant that runaway marriages in England became almost impossible. However, it did lead to the rise in fame of Gretna Green, being just over the border in Scotland.

Except for a brief time during the Commonwealth 1653 -1660 registration was carried out by the local clergy.

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Why it changed

Only the registers of the established Church were accepted as a legal record and as the number of non-conformist Churches began to grow, the parish registers became more and more incomplete.

In the early nineteenth century a House of Commons Committee recommended that the local system of registration and that a civic marriage ceremony should be introduced.

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How the modern service developed

In 1929 the service was transferred to local government and in Poole today it is run by the Council.

In 1995 the Council was allowed to licence other venues for civil marriage ceremonies and couples now have the choice. In the early years of the service very few marriages took place in Register Offices, but now over 50% of all marriages celebrated in Poole take place in several licensed venues as well as the Register Office.

Whilst the service still retains many of it's Victorian roots, computers have now replaced pen and ink as the best way to record these important personal events.

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