What would a village be without a Village Hall? Ullesthorpe would certainly be a poorer place. As the century turns Ullesthorpe’s Village Hall provides a facility today in much the same manner as it has done throughout most of its eighty or so years, hosting regular social events, bringing a true sense of community to the village.

Today we have carpet bowls, line dancing, whist drives and karate classes, as well as providing a homebase for the Evergreen Club and the Women’s Institute. In the past the types of events have been many and varied, but the Hall’s place has remained that of providing a facility for the community. It has played a part in two Jubilee’s, that of George V in 1935, and more recently the 1977 Silver Jubilee of our present Queen.

The Hall’s roots are as a social club in a old Army hut after WW1, believed to have been collected from Wiltshire by Herbert Howson and others from the village, brought to Ullesthorpe by train and manoeuvred into position with horses and drays. The site is that of the original Railway Station. In 1923 it was formally established as a Village Hall, registering with the Charity Commission in deeds sealed on the 25th May, the land having been given by Hugh Goodacre in an Indenture of Conveyance on the 25th April 1922.

An initial meeting chaired by James Palmer to discuss the draft deed of Trusteeship took place on 18th December 1924. At this meeting concern was raised over the omission of the word ‘Memorial’ from the deed. Debate over whether it should be called a Memorial Hall has taken place often over the years. The decision at this meeting was that although the word ‘Memorial’ was not in the deeds, it should always be referred to as such.

The first meeting of elected Trustees was on January 3rd 1925. The first elected Chairman was Hugh Goodacre, to be followed by Herbert Howson in 1926, and Dr.C.K.Toland in 1928. In September 1938 Dr.P.Toland offered the Trustees a photograph of his late father, who had given much time to the Hall. The picture can be seen in the foyer of the Hall today.

Dances have been a regular occurrence in the Hall as much in the past as they are today, providing essential fund-raising. The minutes of the 1930’s note that the Trustees found it necessary to ban intoxicating liquor due to unruly behaviour!

In the spring of 1930 the Hall was closed until the autumn due to an epidemic of smallpox in the village.

The Hall had its first electricity supply in 1931, and mains water came in 1941. In 1937 the need for a new Hall was voiced, but it was to be another 20 years before a new building materialised.

The Parish Council first used the Hall for its meetings in 1932, and continues to do so today.

Around the time of WW2 the Hall was used as a library, had weekly dances with Miss Jenny Wren providing the music, and for some time was occupied by the military, for whom the Trustees endeavoured to provide entertainment. Claims for damage were made to the war department and the Home Guard for the sums of £10-12-6d and £2 respectively!

On the 1st October 1945 a special meeting was called to decide on a form of War Memorial. 54 parishioners attended, and speakers suggested a new Hall, or a playing field. The meeting agreed on a new Hall, preferably with adjoining land that could be used as children’s playing field. In 1947 a meeting of Trustees decided to aim for a new Memorial Hall by 1957.

By 1955 plans for a new Hall were on display in Miss Church’s shop. A petition signed by 73 parishioners was subsequently presented arguing that the proposed Hall was too small, resulting in the length of the Hall being increased by 9ft to its present 50ft. A quote for the new building from Frank Cooke of Broughton Astley was accepted in 1956, and the last meeting in the old premises was held on the 25th May that year. The building was sold to Mr.Wheeler for £50 and was taken down on 16th July.

The Ancient Order of Forresters offered to supply new gates for the Hall and an opening date was set for Saturday 8th June 1957.

Sir Robert Martin opened the new Hall on that day, and was joined by Colonel Atkins (Chairman), Mr.W.Haynes (Vice Chairman), Mrs Harriet Lennard (Secretary) and Mr.Herringshaw of the Ancient Order of Forresters. The Rev.F.Hoad (Congregational Church) and the Rev.A.Proctor.VC. (St.Peter’s), conducted the dedication service. Over 200 people attended.

Since that time the Hall has been extended (1974), a tarmac car park has been laid (1987) and the building has benefited from gas central heating, new doors and windows, and excellent kitchen facilities. Nowadays a further extension is high on the wish list, as many recent functions have been limited by the capacity of the building.

There are so many people who have given so much time to ensuring this facility has been maintained for the village, I feel I must apologise for mentioning only a few, and trust that present and future generations will follow in their footsteps.

For more information about activities at the Village Hall today click here