The Tolbooth is the town centre’s most noticeable landmark standing prominently on the high street with its distinctive cupola rising above the skyline.
There has been a building of some prominence on this site for around 800 years. The current tolbooth was built in 1838 and now houses an impressive courtroom, chambers and prison cells. Inside there are a number of paintings and records of the town burgesses.
The Forres Heritage Trust took over the running of it from Moray Council in 2014.
Records only date back to 1619, as the town was sacked and burned 1390 by the Wolf of Badenoch.
Much of the early history is extracted from The Annals of Forres written in 1934 by Robert Douglas.
- 1390: Town records lost
- 1586: First archived record make reference to a proclamation
- 1588: Records make reference to ‘repairs’
- 1619: Records show Tolbooth being used “for sure keiping and deteining” evil-doers and prisoners.
- 1659: Tolbooth called a “thackit” ruinous building that cannot carry the roof until the walls are repaired.
- 1671 to 1677: masonry repaired and new structures added to form a three storey building.
- 1698: A sum of £333 1s 8p was provided by the merchants and burgesses for major rebuilding work.
- 1708: A bell ‘not to be under 3cwts’ is installed
- 1710: James Anderson receives 600 merks ‘for building the piramede of the Tolbiuth’.
- 1711: James Broun is employed ‘for making a clock for the Tolbuith’.
- 1734: Forres has a ‘recognisably, very impressive public building’, which served the town well for the next century.
- 1838: Foundation stone laid for current Tolbooth
- 2014: Tolbooth transferred from Moray Council to Forres Heritage Trust
- 2018: Courtroom refurbished
- 2019: Wooden staircase inside clocktower replaced
- 2020: Masonry repairs to outer walls and turrets