Great War Centenary - The Village Hall
A large number of village halls were founded in the years immediately following the First World War with many dedicated to the fallen of the conflict. Prior to the war halls tended to be funded as patrician gestures by the local landowner or were associated with the church. The alternative entertainment was provided by the village hostelry.
In Tattenhall, Cheshire the will of Janet Barbour
‘To the parish of Tattenhall, for the purpose of providing a public room for parish purposes, £500 to be laid out in such manner and to be vested in such persons as my son George shall determine’.
The hall opened in 1898 as the Barbour Institute.
The immediate post-war period saw the establishment of the National Council for Social Services (1919) and Rural Community Councils. These bodies with funding from the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust encouraged the building and management of village halls. The important feature of these was the community democratic involvement in the fundraising and control of the premises without 'tipping the cap' to the squire and rector though in some places this may not have happened until the 1930s. There was support from the YMCA and newly founded Womens Institute, Royal British Legion and Village Clubs Association.
Notes of a meeting at Samlesbury, Lancashire dated 19th November 1919 give an insight into the demand for halls.
"That this great meeting of the inhabitants and ex-servicemen of Samlesbury warmly supports the work of the Village Clubs association, and urges on the people of this district the necessity for establishing without delay a club and the building of a War Memorial Hall where there will be no class distinction, but where all can meet for common recreation, improvement and social intercourse and to be managed by the people themselves. It is further agreed that the canvas which has already been so well begun should be proceeded with, with renewed vigour".
In Samlesbury the hall opened in 1928.
The continuing support of the community has seen village halls developed and replaced to provide improved facilities. Many halls have been rebuilt for the Queen's Silver Jubilee and Millennium with help from Lottery Funding.
Most pre-war halls are built by the major landowner who may have owned the village properties for his tenants. During the Great War some of these were used by the Red Cross as Auxiliary Hospitals or Hospital Supply Depots for packing dressings.
Tattenhall, Cheshire (opened 1898)
Dumbleton, Gloucestershire (opened 1899)
Worfield, Shropshire (opened 1913)
East Rounton, North Yorkshire (opened 1906)
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