Village Hall History

Hadspen Village Hall is situated in a conservation area at the western end of the parish and serves the population in the hamlets of Pitcombe, Cole and Hadspen which make up the Parish of Pitcombe. There are 320 residents on the electoral roll many of whom are retired with a number of daily or weekly commuters. Agriculture still plays a part in the local community but to a lesser extent than when the hall was built in 1937.

There is a church at the eastern end of the parish, but unlike some churches there is no church hall or rooms for meetings or social events. There is also no longer a public house or shop as both ceased trading in the last forty years.

Up to the mid 1930s small social functions in the parish were held in the Church

Hall which no longer exists. However the rector of the day disliked whist drives being held during Lent and as a result a local farmer gave the land, and residents raised funds, to build the Village Hall which started life as a village social centre virtually free from debt!

To ensure its continuity the Hall was registered as a charity with the Charity Commissioners on 25 th February 1938 and the Official Trustees for the Commissioners became permanent Trustees of the hall. In the Conveyance and Trust Deed dated 28 th October 1937 it provided for the passing of the trusteeship to the Charity Commissioners with responsibility for management falling to a local committee established in accordance with the Trust Deed. The Mothers’ Union, the Whist Drive Club and the Social Club were each given the right to nominate a member of the Committee.

Some years later, under a new Charities Act, the trusteeship was passed back to the Management Committee whose members became Trustees of the hall under the auspices of the Charity Commission. The deed is drawn so as to allow the Committee to adapt to changes in social patterns. At present representatives of all the user groups are members of the Management Committee. The maintenance of the Hall is the responsibility of the Management Committee.

The old village hall has now come to the end of its life. Its facilities were basic, it had no provisions for the disabled, poor insulation, inefficient heating and poor toilet facilities. The roof was undulating and one corner of the building had subsided, but it played an important part in village life since 1938 and as times have changed so did its role For example where it was once used for a youth club and staging plays, more recently it was used as a short mat bowls club, a wine club, a venue for Tai Chi and Yoga classes as well as private hire.

In addition the Hall Committee organise at least four social events during the year involving the whole community with the help of an excellent ladies catering committee. This enables social interaction and has also helped to fund the running costs and maintenance of the old hall and funds have risen substantially over the last five years.

For the last six years the management committee has been maintaining the fabric of the hall to the best of its ability and raising funds towards building a new one. Knowing that it was essential for something to be done following Structural Engineer’s reports and after investigating several other sites in the parish, it was decided to build a new hall on the existing site after demolishing the present hall. After consultation with the adjoining landowner a 99-year lease at a peppercorn rent on a portion of the adjoining land was obtained in order to provide better access and improved car parking.

Following consultation with the residents, plans were drawn up by an architect and submitted to South East Somerset Planning Committee and planning permission was given in July 2004.

The Hallmark One Award (which looks at the management of the hall) was gained in August 2004 which then enabled the Management Committee to apply for grants to the Somerset Joint County & District Grant Scheme.

In order to move the project forward Chartered Surveyors, Slade Parry Partnership were appointed, initially to draw up a cost estimate and subsequently, following quotations from other Chartered Surveyors, to oversee the project through all phases to completion.

Residents have been, and will continue to be, informed of progress through the Parish Council and the local magazine, Pitcombe News. In addition progress on the new hall can now be monitored through the new village hall website.

The committee have held many social events over the years which have been well supported and raised funds towards building a new hall as well as maintaining the old one. However, in July 2007 a Gift Aid Appeal was launched and due to the generosity of the community substantial funds were raised which, together with the tax reclaimed on the donations, has enabled phase 1 of the project to rebuild the village hall to go ahead.

In addition to fund raising within the community the Management Committee have applied to numerous grant giving bodies over the last four years. To date support has been given by Pitcombe Parish Council, Somerset County & District Councils, Viridor Credits, the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Hall & Woodhouse Community Chest and grants are still being sought for the final phase of the work.

Just over three years ago a Short Mat Bowls Club was formed which is thriving and growing and makes very good use of the hall for Club nights and league matches. In 2004 a Wine Club was also formed which has twenty enthusiastic members. Weekly Tai Chi classes are also much enjoyed. It is anticipated that the new village hall will increase the opportunity for the residents to take part in more recreational activities as well as providing a much more comfortable environment for social events, parish meetings etc.

The Village Hall remains a hub for a rural community which is rapidly changing as many new people move into the locality from urban areas. The social events that are held not only help integrate newcomers into the village thus aiding social cohesion but have also generated a real community spirit enjoyed by both ‘old ‘and ‘new’ residents.

In October 2007 the old hall was demolished to make way for a new one to be built by R B Snook Building Limited of Sturminster Newton. Completion is anticipated in early April and we look forward to the next chapter in the life of ‘Hadspen Village Hall’.

See also

Hadspen Hall Remembered [1]

The Early Years [2]

Before the First Village Hall [3]

Printer Friendly Page [4]