The John Canton plaque on the Old Town Hall

Helena and I drove to town to drop off our market equipment and stock for the Friday and Saturday indoor market at The Shambles. It is held on the opposite side of the Shambles to this building, which is the 16th century Old Town Hall. I stood in the large double doorway of St Laurence's Church Hall while the drizzle gradually petered out.

From a local history website:
John Canton FRS (31 July 1718 – 22 March 1772) was a British physicist. He was born in Middle Street Stroud, Gloucestershire, the son of a weaver John Canton (b. 1687) and Esther (née Davis). At the age of nineteen, under the auspices of Dr Henry Miles, he was articled for five years as clerk to Samuel Watkins, the master of a school in Spital Square, London, with whom at the end of that time he entered into partnership. 

In 1750 he read a paper before the Royal Society on a method of making artificial magnets, which procured him election as a fellow of the society. In 1751 he was a recipient of the Copley Medal "On account of his communicating to the Society, and exhibiting before them, his curious method of making Artificial Magnets without the use of Natural ones." He was the first in England to verify Benjamin Franklin's hypothesis of the identity of lightning and electricity, and he made several important electrical discoveries.

In 1762 and 1764 he published experiments in refutation of the decision of the Florentine Academy, at that time generally accepted, that water is incompressible. In 1768 he described the preparation, by calcining oyster-shell with sulphur, of the phosphorescent material known as Canton's phosphorus. His investigations were carried on without any intermission of his work as a schoolmaster. He died in London aged 53 of dropsy.

The Old Town Hall was built as a market house around 1594 by John Throckmorton, lord of the manor of Over Lypiatt. It was originally free-standing in the middle of an open market place that has since been encroached on, and it is thought at first to have had an open arcaded ground floor. A battlemented Tudor-style extension was added in 1851 to the design of Francis Niblett, to provide accommodation for the County Court. 

In 1865, the upper storeys were altered, probably by William Clissold. The castellated Victorian Gothic staircase towers were added at this time. The upper floors were used for many purposes. At one time they were let to a clothier, and later, the first floor was the home of the Red Boys School. In 1816, the school moved upstairs to allow the first floor to be used as the magistrates' court.

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