A building for the use of parishioners of Wickhamford was paid for by Mrs Bertha Drysdale and first built, on Manor Road, in 1907. Mrs Drysdale, a widow, lived at The Drifford, Murcot Turn, just outside the Wickhamford parish boundary. She moved to Brookfield Cottage, Manor Road, next to the village hall, during the Great War. She was a great benefactor and, amongst many other things, funded an annual Christmas party in the hall for the children of the village for many years.
Numerous villagers have, over the following century, been involved in the governance of the Hall and some details are set out below.
(A) An Indenture of 11th February 1907 was drawn up between -
On the one hand Sir Henry Foley Grey and Charles Edward Leigh, Trustees of the Estate of J. P. Lord, who were supplying a plot of land for the building and, on the other hand, a group of, mainly, local parishioners. This agreement was the conveyancing of land and a building for use as a Parish Room and Club.
The parishioners and others concerned were :-
- The Reverend William Carmont Allesbrook, Vicar of Wickhamford and also of Badsey.
- George Albert Agg, later to become a Churchwarden in 1917 and was a market gardener who lived on Pitchers Hill.
- Frederick Ingledew Hooper Ingledew, a fruit grower and Churchwarden for a short period 1905-1907, who lived at Elm Farm before it was occupied by John Mason (see below).
- Arthur Edward Lord, a son of J. P. Lord, who did not live in the village, but had been on the village electoral roll in 1891 due to land ownership qualifications.
- Reginald Spencer Lord, another son of J. P. Lord, who did not live in the village, but in Beckenham, Kent. (The presence of the two Lord brother’s names would appear to be connected to the Trusteeship of the Estate of J. P. Lord.)
- George Compton Lees-Milne, newly the owner of Wickhamford Manor and soon to be appointed a Churchwarden in 1908.
- John Mason (the younger) a market gardener, who lived at Elm Farm, Manor Road. The land transferred for the building was part of his holding.
- Jesse Newman was a widower and market gardener, who lived at 2 Manor Cottages, Manor Road.
- James de Radcliffe Openshaw, market gardener who lived at Bowers Hill Farm, Badsey, but attended Wickhamford Church where his son was to be baptised in 1909.
- George Pethard, the landlord of the Sandys Arms.
- Hubert Lindsell Richards, who owned a nursery on Manor Road.
- Robert Taylor, Churchwarden and a carpenter who lived at Rose Bank, Pitchers Hill.
The first Schedule laid out some rules for use of the room -
- “The Vicar shall be permitted to use the Building and Furniture on Wednesday each week between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and on Sundays as a C. of E. Sunday School.
- The building shall never be allowed to be used for any religious service or purpose other than mentioned above, or for any political purpose whatsoever.
- No person shall be a Trustees who is not a member of the Church of England.
- If the Land and Building are deemed in future not to be required they may be sold and any funds passed to the Vicar and Churchwardens for some good and charitable use.”
(B) At the Land Valuation Survey in 1915, the building was described as ‘The Reading Room’, with land of 466 sq. yds. It was a new brick and tile building, roughcast, with two chimneys, a wood block floor and “a stained open roof”.
The owner’s name was given as Rev. W. C. Allesbrooke and the occupier as the Manageress of Wickhamford Reading Room, but no name was given. At that time, it had a gross market value of £215.
It is believed that during the inter-War period an artillery shell was mounted on one of the gate pillars, but no photograph of this has been located. It would have been removed for scrap during the Second World War.
(C) After the Second World War, the building was refurbished and enlarged with extra rooms on the side away from the road. This was constructed with a flat concrete roof of the type used for air-raid shelters. This area now contains the gentlemen’s toilet, kitchen and storage rooms, one of which was originally designed as a Committee Room.
Mentions of the building's name in the local press changed from 'Reading Room' to 'Memorial Hall' in mid-1947. This change probably coincided with the erection of the Memorial plaque to those who lost their lives in both World Wars (see below).
(D) A Deed of Appointment on 30th August 1951 of Committee members was drawn up between -
- Rev. Wilfred Broadhurst Chapman (Vicar of Wickhamford and Badsey), Ernest William Sturt (who owned Leystones Garage and lived in Weathervane Cottage, Manor Road) and Edmund Cooke (of Robin Cottage, Manor Road), the latter two being Churchwardens, and
- Frederick Thomas John Taylor, Clarence Henry Willis, Walter Henry Morelle Johnson, Stanley Figgitt, Walter Henry Batty, Alfred Charles Welland, Gwendoline Emma Hancock, Priscilla Marjorie Collett, John Edward Sheppard and Leslie Poulter.
The previous year, on 11th January 1950, the remnants of the Wickhamford Estate, owned by the Trustees of J. P. Lord was sold to Christ Church College, Oxford. The Deed of Appointment in 1951, may have come about as a consequence of this sale or be co-incidental.
(E) A Conveyance of 21st July 1971 refers to a conveyance of land made involving Derrick Frank Alfred Daffurn, Elizabeth Mabel Daffurn (both of Elm Farm), NFU Mutual Insurance Society Ltd, Frederick Thomas John Taylor, Henry Willis, Stanley Figgitt, Alfred Charles Welland, Pricilla Marjorie Collett and Leslie Poulter.
On this document are the signatures of Rev Mitchell, James Edward Parry, David Gerard Poulter, Alfred Charles Welland, Stanley Figgett, William Constantine Astley, Robin Graham Cox, Michael Anthony Cole, John Douglas Poulter, William Dobson Bertenshaw, Geoffrey Frederick Badham and Mabel Patricia Bell.
This event concerns the transfer of a small area of land from Elm Farm to provide the car park at the rear of the Memorial Hall (see plan below). At this time, a cycle shed was removed.
(F) In November 1991, much building work was done at the Hall, including the building of an extension by the entrance to accommodate the new ladies’ toilets. The picture below shows the exterior of this end of the building in June 1991, before building work began.
(G) On 22nd December 2004 the Hall’s governance was passed over to The Charity Commissioners for England and Wales. This document states that the scheme to be undertaken would govern the charity “previously known as Wickhamford Parish Room and Workmen’s Club or Wickhamford Memorial Hall". It was to be known by the latter name in all future correspondence.
At that time the Committee members were - Robin Cox, Michael Smith, Jane Bailey, John Poulter, Margaret Winkett, Gerard Poulter, Amanda Rogers, Jane Vacalopaulos, Maggie Lewis and Anne Poulter.
Under this arrangement, the following conditions of use applied -
(1) The object of the charity is the provision and maintenance of a village hall for use of the inhabitants of the area without distinction of political, religious or other opinions, including use for:
(a) meetings, lectures and classes, and
(b) other forms of recreation and leisure-time occupation, with the object of improving the conditions of life for the inhabitants.
(2) The committee must allow the parochial church council of the ecclesiastical parish of Wickhamford free use of the property on Sundays and one other day each week.
(3) The land identified in part 2 of the schedule to this scheme must be retained by the committee for use of the object of the charity.
(H) Following severe flooding in 2007, the wooden floor of the Hall had to be re-laid and at this time the stage area was removed. The kitchen needed some new units installed and a new boiler was mounted on the wall.
It is not clear from the documents examined for this article when exactly the name of the hall became ‘Wickhamford Memorial Hall’. As mentioned above, this seems to have occurred in 1947. On 9th November 1951 a new Trustees’ Declaration document refers to ‘Wickhamford Parish Room and Club (now sometimes known as “Wickhamford Memorial Hall”)’. This would seem to show that, at that time, the ‘Memorial Hall’ name was a recent adoption.
The Memorial Hall continues to be used by village groups, and those from elsewhere, for regular meetings and for parties.
Tom Locke – March 2018