The Story of Gaydon Village Hall 1885 - 2000

I will start the story with an excerpt from the Gaydon Parish Magazine of January 1885

During the last year some cottage property in the village passed into the possession of Bolton King Esq. and on Friday January 9th he entertained his tenants at dinner under the hospitable roof of Mr Fleming.

Roast beef, boiled and roast mutton, plum puddings and mince pies were provided, and the guests, who seemed to be in the best of spirits, did ample justice to the good fare.

When the cloth was drawn, Mr Bolton King gave some good advice to his tenants and stated that he proposed to erect a Public Hall in the village for concerts, lectures, etc. with a Coffee Room which might also be used for reading, smoking and the like.

Some years pass and we move from the reign of Queen Victoria to that of her great great grand-daughter Queen Elizabeth II.

This photograph of the Coronation party taken outside the hall in 1953 shows something of its unusual construction. A tiled roof had replaced the original thatch some years before the picture was taken.

The next picture shows the front of the hall much as it is today. You can see the hall has lost its distinctive split-pine-log exterior except for the strip above the porch. On this it is possible to make out the initials B and K for Bolton King and the date 1886.

A few years ago the hall committee had the south-facing end of the hall re-clad in new split pine. It might be possible to renew the front for £1500.

Rocket Ends Wretched Affair . .

From 1938 the Hall was owned by Mrs Willis (formerly Dunne) and vested in a trust with herself and Oliver and Edward Bolton King, In 1938 Mrs Willis generously offered to give the hall to the village of Gaydon.
This did not prove to be easy or quick! This next letter from our local MP was written eight years later.

House of Commons

London. S.W. 1.

23rd July, 1965

Dear Mr Lush,
Thank you for your letter of 21st July,
about this wretched Gaydon Village Hall business.
I have discharged an urgent rocket at the
Department of Education, and hope to be able to
have a progress report for you soon.

Yours sincerely
Angus Maude

G.W.M. Lush, Esq
Southam Rural District Council

Mr Lush's reply in December ends on a happier note.

Angus Maude, Esq., M.P.
House of Commons
Dear Mr. Maude,
I am pleased to be able to tell you that at last we have reached finality in the dreary business of the Assignment of Gaydon Village Hall.
I have at this moment a photostat of the legal document by which the Hall becomes the property of the Village.
Your "rocket" undoubtedly did a great deal to wake them up at the Ministry of Education and we are all very grateful.
Yours sincerely
G.W.M. Lush

In January 1966 Councillor Lush wrote a New Year Message to Gaydon which ends . . .

Gaydon has done well in the last few months - as you know, the sewage scheme is practically complete; during November the Village Hall ceased to be privately-owned and now belongs to the Village. It is now up to the residents to support the Village Hall Committee in getting enough money together to modernise the Hall.

The hall was eventually modernised with the help of a grant from the Ministry of Education; which also provided income by renting the hall as an extension of Gaydon Primary School.

This next picture, taken before the VE day celebrations of 1995, shows the interior of the hall. The suspended ceiling, fluorescent strip lighting and electric heaters were installed as part of the modernisation of the hall in 1968. Although they are still serviceable we feel it is time they were updated.

The Village Hall Committee proposes to install new lighting; an oil-fired central heating system; and to expose the original beams and boards by removing the suspended ceiling. Cost is estimated to be in the region of £15000.

We would also like to modernise the kitchen and rebuild the toilets making provision for disabled access. Cost £10000 and þ20000 respectively.

The original octagonal reading room at the rear of the hall is to be fitted out as an office and the whole building redecorated and refurnished. Cost þ5000.

Total costs, including professional fees, will amount to about £50000.

In the year 2000 we feel the time has come to try to restore this unique " Arts and Crafts" style building to some of its former beauty and utility. JR