House Of Rebels: Halle’s Hall in Salisbury
One of the most interesting houses is Salisbury is Halle’s Hall, which now serves as the local cinema, possibly the only cinema in the country that is over 500 years old.
The Hall is a late medieval house begun by John Halle in about 1470 and completed in 1483, several years after Halle’s death, when his son was in residence. The house retains many original features on both exterior and interior, including fine examples of original stained glass, including one, presumed to be Halle himself, bearing the banner with the royal arms of the Prince of Wales.
John Halle was the owner of the Hall, and he was a well-known figure in 15th c Salisbury—not only as a wealthy wool merchant, but as four time mayor and 4 time mp in parliament.
Halle seemed a rather irascible character and managed to embroil himself in a fight with another merchant, William Swayne, over land in St Thomas’s churchyard for a chantry.
The fight became so bitter between the merchants that Edward IV summoned Halle to appear before him in London. Halle showed up anything but contrite, and was apparently both forceful and insolent. ‘Shewing himself of a right cedicious hasty wilful and fully unwilly disposicon’ was what was written of his behaviour at the time.
Annoyed by the merchant’s insolence and stubbornness, Edward decided that perhaps a little spell in the Tower might cool John Halle’s ire.
Salisbury was asked to elect another mayor in his place, but most of the people insisted they liked Halle—mainly because he stood up to the Bishop, Richard Beauchamp, who was not terribly popular. So upon his release from his short sojourn in the Tower, Halle was reinstated as Mayor.
He evidently had no love of Edward IV. In 1470, he was given 40 marks to raise 40 men at arms for the Earl of Warwick, with the aim of restoring Henry VI.
However, after Edward’s decisive victories at Barnet and Tewkesbury, he seemed to become reconciled to the King, and little more was heard from him until his death in 1479.
His son, William, who inherited the Hall, had perhaps something of his father’s rebellious temperament. He joined Buckingham’s rebellion against Richard III in 1483. He was attainted for his actions, but the attainder was reversed in 1485 and afterwards he became an MP for Salisbury.
Of John Halle’s other children, one daughter, Christyan,, married Sir Thomas Hungerford, showing the family was ‘moving up in the world’, and also, perhaps, their Lancastrian leanings.