Tatsfield Village Hall

Tatsfield Village Hall History

The History of Tatsfield Village Hall

The beginnings as a Church Hall

The recorded history of the Village Hall goes back to Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 when Mr Weldon T.J. Broughton, who lived at Colegates, offered to provide land for a public hall to mark the Jubilee. A gospel hall had been built in 1888, but Tatsfield’s growing population had risen from 168 to 607 between 1881 and 1901 and needed something better.

By September 1908 a Church Hall Committee had been set up and the Lord of the Manor, Granville Charles Gresham Leveson Gower, was willing to provide land. The South London Church Fund made a grant of £100; further grants and fund-raising in the village produced the £650 needed for the project. Villagers also provided the funds for chairs – at two shillings each, the equivalent of about £6 today.

A Tatsfield man, Augustus Hitchcock, won the contract to build the hall. The foundation stone, to the right of the steps at the front of the hall, was laid by Mrs Leveson Gower in May 1909. Two months later the deed was signed transferring the land to the Church and the Bishop of Southwark formally opened the hall on 9 September 1909.

The Parish Council takes an interest

Because of the distance from the village to the Church some winter services were held in the hall when weather conditions were poor. After the end of the First World War the Parish Council minutes reported “the dilapidated appearance of the Parish Hall” and the suggestion that a fund should be set up to help the Church. It was agreed to talk to the Rector about helping in the hall’s management.

By 1939 the Parish Council began to consider building a separate Village Hall because of hiring restrictions at the Church Hall, but the Second World War intervened and nothing further was recorded in the minutes.

In 1950, a controversy arose over the precise ownership of the hall in the light of old copies of a local newspaper quoting Mr Leveson Gower as saying he had offered the land on condition that the hall be used for Church services. The next year it was noted that “after exhaustive and comprehensive study of the question of ownership of the Church Hall, hoping that it may not again become the subject of dispute, confident that it may be freely used for the pursuit of ordinary village activities, the Tatsfield Parish Council as presently constituted places on record its view that the hall is correctly entitled ‘Church Hall’ and that it belongs to and therefore must be controlled by, the Church Authorities”.

In 1961 the Parish Council was considering buying the hall and extending it for the use of the Youth Club. When the price of £2,500 was mentioned there were complaints that people were being asked to pay twice for the hall, since the bulk of the original cost had been raised by public subscription.

In 1964 the Parish Council began to lease the hall, which became a registered charity run by a Management Committee, and in 1966 took up the option of buying it from the Church outright for £3,000.

Extensions, refurbishment and the National Lottery

In the early 1970s the hall was extended. The Parish Council added a kitchen, store rooms and new toilets. Then tentative enquiries were made about buying the land behind the hall for further extensions.

It was another 12 years before an opportunity to do this arose when Park Farm, which occupied the land around the hall, was put on the market. It was agreed to spend £3,750 on the purchase which was completed in 1983, leading to the eventual development of the scheme to extend the hall and build the Surgery and Parish Room.

Planning permission for the whole scheme was granted in 1988, but grant assistance from the district and county councils was not available just when it was wanted and the hall extension had to be postponed. The Surgery and Parish Room were however opened in 1990.

By the time that district and county council grants finally became available, the Parish Council felt a more ambitious scheme was needed for the hall. New plans were drawn up and approved by the District Council as it was becoming clear that Tatsfield might qualify for National Lottery money. Two bids for Lottery money failed, but the third was successful and provided £125,000 towards the scheme which extended, widened and refurbished the hall. Grants from Surrey and Tandridge provided a further £52,000. The Village Hall Management Committee drained its funds to provide another £6,000, leaving £87,000 to be found by the Parish Council. This came out of local taxation and reserves built up over the years, supplemented by a loan which was later repaid from the rental income of the Surgery.

Today’s hall

The present hall was formally re-opened on 27 March 1999 as a building largely retaining the original external features of the 1909 hall but now enlarged and providing facilities more in tune with the new millennium.

The formalities leading to the Lottery grant uncovered some ‘loose ends’ in the legalities surrounding the precise status of the Village Hall – an echo of the controversy half a century earlier. This resulted in the Parish Council ‘regularising’ the situation by once again buying the hall – this time for £1 – and leasing it back to the Management Committee at a peppercorn rent for 125 years.

More improvements

During the past 10 years there has been a succession of improvements, including air conditioning and the installation of acoustic panels to absorb the impact of some of the noisier activities and to enhance the quality of music being performed regularly in the hall in concerts and at other functions.