The tale of quite a unique Village Hall!

The scene was set when a public meeting was held in the School Room on Friday 14 January 1949.  Lady Braybrooke presided supported by Rev P A Wright, 32 members of the public were present.  The Chairman reported that the Village Hall fund now stood at £415.  The complete estimate for the erection of the Hall (previously 2 disused Army Nissan huts) was £379.10s.0d which included a special floor; plus having to have the laying on of water. From this meeting the Littlebury Village Hall Committee was then formed.

The land, which had previously been Lower Farm, had been generously given to the village by The Right Honourable Henry Seymour Baron Braybrooke and the Deed of Gift and Trust Deeds were made as of 13 April 1949.

Various rules and hiring fees were drawn up and it was agreed the following should be purchased:

6 Buckets
2 Fire Extinguishers
8 Army Blankets these were to be made into curtains for the stage
A piano was to be purchased, that is, if it could be bought for a reasonable price.

It was agreed the opening night would be Friday 22 April 1949.

Lady Braybrooke proposed that a Fete be held in the gardens of Mill House on Saturday 9 July 1949; the fete would start at 5pm and have many stalls as an attraction. A sum of £61.10s.04p was made after all expenses had been paid.  It was then agreed to hold dances, social evenings, whist drives and in the winter, cinema shows as a way of fund raising for the running cost of the Village Hall.

1969 and the Hall needed working on, a tender from a local builder gave a price of £2,000; which the Hall funds did not have.  Work needed doing and therefore fund raising with the community went into action; the Recreation Committee gave the proceeds from their annual fete; plus there was a door to door collection around the village.

The villagers provided what help they could, a team of men got together to do the work; Miss Taylor from the Post Office provided tea and sugar, Ladies would provide cakes and go down and make tea in the evening, there was even free use of a cement mixer!

After the work had been completed it was decided to give a supper to all the workmen and wives and this took place on Saturday 22 November, it was noted in the minutes at the time that the building inspector was also invited as he had been a great help throughout all the work.  The supper was made up of donations, the turkey (Mr Goodwin), wines (Mr Lott), potatoes (Mr Wilby) and Mr Wright the fruit and ice cream.

A Silver Anniversary Dinner was held on 20 April 1974, previous committee members were also invited to the event. The cost of a ticket was thought to be £1.75.

An extension to the Hall started on 6 September 1976 work being done by builders from a neighbouring village.  To help fund this Uttlesford District Council was approached for a loan of £400 as the cost of the extension was £797.  It was another difficult time for the committee.

The Hall requires continual upkeep and a new roof went on in 1984; 5 years later a Dinner Dance was arranged to celebrate 40 years; this night was very well supported.

In 1992 the Hall was at crisis point as there wasn’t enough money to keep it running.  A public meeting was held to see what the future would be, approximately 75 people attended and were strong in their views that the Hall should not close; such was the feeling of some of the people there that they agreed to join the committee to help raise the much needed funds.  The Parish Council were approached and they agreed to provide the running costs for a year.

The new committee found that they had to work hard for many years to improve the Hall, it wasn’t a quick fix but gradually things improved and bookings increased and so in 1999 they were able to celebrate 50 years, quite an achievement.

In 1993 the hall took on charity status; from then the various committees have somehow managed to carry on, there has been a new heating system and a new kitchen plus the continual jobs that always need doing.

Over the years the uniqueness of this little building has been a home to so many events, weekly dances with live bands, dinner dances for various village organisations, Bingo evenings, amateur dramatic performances and Christmas parties for the children.  We have seen the benefit of regular bookings which started with the indoor Bowls Club; the hall continually transforms to suit whatever the occasion!

The last addition was the transformation outside to form the Denis Wright Memorial Garden which also had a bench to recognise and thank Susan Lloyd, John Penney and Gordon Wilby the other long standing Trustees.  Again this venture was generously funded by individual donations or group donations.

Finally, we wouldn’t have this Hall without those individuals who over the years have and still do give their time freely to help this hall to be maintained and enjoyed by all.