- Since 1984, the Willis Museum has been housed in this impressive early Victorian building that was once Basingstoke’s Town Hall. It is named after George Willis, a local clockmaker, antiquarian and former Mayor of Basingstoke, who became the first honorary curator when the original museum was established in the Mechanics Institute in New Street in 1931. The building you see today replaced the original Mote Hall (meeting place) where Jane Austen attended dances. This replacement Town Hall was designed by Lewis Wyatt and was open on the ground floor, serving as the town’s Corn Exchange and Market. Centrally located at the Top of the Town, in the Willis Museum you will discover Basingstoke and Deane’s past, from the rich archaeological heritage beneath our feet right up to the modern day. Throughout the year, we also run a programme of touring exhibitions, as well as fun events, workshops and activities for all the family to enjoy.