Abridged Historical Notes - The Early Years

Up to the mid 1930s small social functions in the Parish were held in the Church Hall however the rector of the day disliked whist drives being held during Lent and this resulted in a move towards establishing a secular Hall. Prominent among the supporters of this cause were Mrs Mabel Parker Rhodes of Honeywick and Mr R M (Dick) Jennings of Hadspen Valley Farm. Dick’s father, Mr R F Jennings gave the land on which the Hall now stands and Dick, with Mrs Parker Rhodes and others set about raising funds. One memorable fete at Honeywick raised over £120, a considerable achievement for those days. Enthusiasm carried the day and the Hall started life as a village social centre virtually free from debt.

To ensure continuity the Hall was registered as a charity with the Charity Commissioners on 25 February 1938 and the Official Trustees for the Commissioners became permanent trustees of the Hall. The original trustees were Mr Mark Dyer a retired civil servant who lived at Larkhill and who was the first secretary to the Hall; Mrs M Parker Rhodes who lived at Honeywick House, Mr Dick Jennings who lived at Hadspen Valley Farm (now Hadspen Valley House) and Mr G F Clothier, farmer of Bottom Barn Farm (now known as The Wildings). It is probably true to say that had there been no Dick Jennings – ably supported by Mrs Jennings – there would have been no Hall.

Social activity has waxed and waned according to the needs of the times. There were dances when the Hall was crammed to overflowing. Mrs Goodland who lived at Nettlecombe Cottage recalled the Hall serving primarily as a Men’s Club, a miniature British Legion. It was also used for young people during pre-television evenings, and fortnightly for whist drives and occasionally for other functions.

The Conveyance and Trust Deed is an interesting document drawn by Woodforde and Drewett, Solicitors of Castle Cary, and is dated 28 October 1937. It provides for the passing of the trusteeship to the Charity Commissioners, with responsibility for management falling to a local committee established in accordance with the trust deed. The organisations given the right to nominate a member of the Committee were the Mothers’ Union, the Whist Drive Club and the Social Club which no longer exist in Hadspen.

The deed is drawn so as to allow the Committee to adapt to changes in social patterns. Provision is made for raising a mortgage, or for the discontinuance by sale or letting of the Hall, subject to approval by a village meeting and the Charity Commissioners. There are no trust funds as such as maintenance of the Hall is the responsibility of the Committee. It has always been necessary in the past to obtain grants from public funds towards modernisation and repair. Such grants have always been subject to a proportionate amount being raised locally so that self-help has always been imperative.

Carole Wyatt - Pitcombe News March 2008

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