A brief history of Eathorpe Village Hall
The Village Hall is built on land sold to the village in July 1954, for the sum of £1.00, by the Twist family, then living at Eathorpe Hall. It was to be used ‘for the purpose of physical and mental training… recreation and social, moral and intellectual development… for the benefit of the inhabitants of… Eathorpe and Wappenbury and their immediate vicinity… without distinction of sex or of political, religious or other opinions’.
The original building was lightweight and wooden, erected by voluntary effort. Slightly smaller than the present building, it had a low, felt-covered, roof, fibre-board internal walls and windows set above eye-level. By the early 1990’s, over 35 years of the prevailing southwest winds had given it a significant tilt to the north-east and £4,000 was spent on major structural repairs.
The hall continued to be a lively centre, increasingly hosting professional theatre and music as well as social events for villagers. Its users included the ever more active Eathorpe Table Tennis Club, Morris dancing and the Over-60’s Club. But the building continued to deteriorate, its basic facilities dropped away from modern standards and access for disabled people was primitive. A remarkably successful photo exhibition ‘The Changing Community’, in January 2001, drew over 1,000 visitors and prompted thoughts of building a new hall before the old one finally fell down.
In less than 3 years the money required (£340,000) was raised and the new hall built. About £50,000 of the total came from a vigorous programme of fund-raising events and generous individual donations. The project was a genuinely local affair. The architect, Phil Mitchell, lived in Hunningham and developed his designs through a series of village meetings at which almost all households were represented. The builder, Tompkins Construction Ltd, was based in nearby Birdingbury and its site manager, Chris Clewes, was connected with the village through his mother, who spent her childhood child in a now demolished cottage near the Plough Inn.
Fund-raising, and the complete building programme, was co-ordinated by a sub-committee of villagers: Judy Baum (Chair of the overall Hall committee), David French (Chair of the sub-committee), Graham Peck, Maggy Smith, Ivan Spicer (Treasurer), and Rosie Aaron.
The hall was opened in November 2003 by Mota Singh, Chair of the County Council and former village postman for Eathorpe. The event was celebrated by a weekend of comedy, jazz and theatre that set the style for the next period in the existence of Eathorpe and Wappenbury Village Hall.
November 2023 sees the 20th anniversary of the building of the new Hall – an event which will be celebrated in traditional Eathorpe fashion!