Parish Hall and Theatre
Having completed the building of the church, the Vicar turned his attention to the urgent task of the education of the young – the parish having at that time a population of 3,000 with swarms of children for whom no educational provision was made and who were in danger of growing up illiterate as their parents. He made plans for building the church schools – one for the boys and one for the girls, with a teachers’ house between them. These schools (now the Parish Hall and Theatre) were in use until the present county primary school was opened in 1916.
After the schools transferred to their new building, the school rooms were primarily used for the Sunday Schools. The Rev Barker Lumb mentioned in one of his parish magazines that there were 300 children.
During the 2nd World War evacuee children were taught there and four rooms were used by the local Home Guard. But by 1948 urgent repair work was becoming necessary and when the Rev Marsden came to the Parish in 1949 he had visions of restoring the lower hall as a theatre and of the theatre being put to use not only to entertain the villagers but also to raise money for the restoration and refurbishing of the church and both halls. Another visionary – and again it worked.
By 1954 the lower room had been transformed into a theatre (with an incredibly large stage) with dressing rooms. ‘Alladin’ was the first production. There followed a pantomime every year until 1976 when the producer, the Rev Edward Marsden, retired. Regular productions did not start again until 1986; they have continued annually since then, and there are few people in the village who do not play their part each winter – either on, behind or in front of the stage.
Between 1979 and 1987 over £21,000 was spent on improvements to the halls – grants were sought, interest free loans were offered, generous donations were given by individuals – but HALF was raised by fund-raising efforts in and by the village. This money has proved very well spent.
The final work – the building of the vicarage – was paid for by the Rev Aitken himself, who again designed it and the lovely castellated walls with which it and the churchyard are surrounded.
Until 2014 the vicar gave tours of the vicarage at the October Coffee Morning.
Also until 2014 tours of the garden were given in conjunction with the plant sale in June.
2014 – mid January – there was a fire at the vicarage which damaged the roof, which has since been repaired.
2015 – May – The vicar, Alan Rowell, retired. He has moved out and the Vicarage sold.
2015 – Autumn – A new vicarage was purchased, a short distance away.