From selling cakes to talks on neo-classical design, Wootton Village Hall is at the heart of the village
The idea for a hall in Wootton was first mooted in 1925 as a place for public meetings in the village – but, sadly, there was no money available to either buy the land or to build it.. However, the plea for money produced a knight in the form of Colonel J.C.B. Eastwood, from Holly Bank, who offered to put up the £500 needed, repayable over ten years.
It fell to the Brain Brothers – William and Ralph – to organise the construction of the village hall, with the help of many local people. The brothers’ business of wagon-builders and wheelwrights was run from the site of the current home of Roy Hanson and his wife, Hazel, in the heart of Wootton and the brothers arranged for the timber (which forms most of the building’s fabric) to be imported from Scandanavia.
Construction took several months to complete before the opening of the hall in April, 1926 when the band of Colonel Eastwood’s regiment, the 12th Lancers, played at a fete to celebrate the event. Ten years later, a memorial was signed by members of the village hall committee in appreciation of Colonel Eastwood’financial help and “generous spirit” – and it remains on the hall wall today.
In its early days, the committee met each month to discuss issues such as charges for hiring the hall, the appointment of a caretaker and organising lectures and dances, as well as other events, to pay for the running costs. The stalwart secretary, C.T Harris, acted as secretary for 22 years from the opening of the hall until his retirement in 1947.
One major event occurred after the war in 1948 when a Village History Exhibition was held, organsied by Prof Maurice Hugh-Jones, and exhibits were drawn from every home in the parish. A few years later, two other exhibitions were held, organsied by Mike and Sheila Hallam – the first involved arts and crafts, with exhibits again provided by many in the parish; whilst the second marked the centenary of Francis Kilvert, the Victorian diarist, who married Elizabeth Anne Rowland, daughter of John Rowland, of Holly Bank, on August 20th 1879 – having met during a visit to Paris.
In the late 1940s, the committee helped establish an infant welfare clinic to save on constant trips to Woodstock, whilst an additional clinic, run by the Sunshine Club, with a chiropodist in attendance, also proved highly popular.
During the following decade, a significant fund-raiser, introduced by the chairman, Val Day, was the weekly bingo sessions run for the Sunshine Club. Other money were raised by six-a-side football event, arranged by Bert Hoare each summer on the Wootton memorial playing field, alongside a very popular fete.
Ninety years after its construction, Ann Day – grand-daughter of William Brain, who led the work on the hall – is a key member of the committee and the village hall now plays host to an ever-increasing range of activities, including:
- Parish council meetings
- Wootton School lunches
- School assemblies
- School gym classes
- School nativity plays
- Friends of Wootton School jumble-sales
- Mums & Toddlers playgroup
- Village Hall Talks
- Christmas Bazaar
- Wootton Flower Show
- Village plays/panto
- Wootton Stores volunteer-evenings
- Italian classes
- Tai Chi classes
- Children’s parties
- Literary groups
- Book launches
- First aid demonstrations
- Memorial events
If you would like more information regarding the village hall please use their Contact page