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  Jane Frances Ashley
&
Emily Frances de Satgé
x
    x
  Architect's Letters 1899 x
 
STRATTON'S OLD VILLAGE HALL
 
   
   
Stratton's old Village Hall served the local community for over a hundred years in a wide variety of ways. The building now overlooks the village green. It is recognizable as an old institution with its large stone framed windows and inscibed foundation stone.
 
   
The Village Hall started life on the 19th April 1898 when a plot of land was purchased from Alfred Pope by the Salisbury Diocesan Board of Finance. A building was financed by Mrs Emily Frances de Satgé in memory of her mother, The Honourable Jane Frances Ashley. The original building was intended as a Church of England Sunday School and as a Parish Institute Reading Room and Library. Rules and regulations were set by a committee of management, the Vicar and Churchwardens. Other activities were allowed for the benefit of inhabitants of the parish as long as they did not include alcohol, intoxicating drink or liquor sold on the premises. The building was called the Ashley Memorial Institute.
 
   
Architect's letters dated 1899 inferred that the builders left much to be desired. One letter states that the builder had disappeared and that the building was in danger of falling down. Apparently the roof was too heavy for the supporting walls, and external buttresses had to be quickly erected. Roof arches, a very well sprung wooden floor and a small stage with a proscenium arch were its main attributes.
 
   
Events at the Institute in the early years are not fully recorded but a receipt book held by the Dorset History Centre shows that weekly whist drives and a flower show were held before World War II. Parish Council meetings, wedding parties, anniversaries and harvest suppers were held there.
 
   
The Memorial Institute continued under the control of the committee of management throughout the 1900's, until in the late 1960's the building was in need of modernising. Money was not available even for essential repairs.
 
   
The bell which had hung above the Institute was removed in the 1960's for saftey reasons. Over the course of time its location was forgotten until it was rediscovered in 2003 in a Frampton workshop.
 
   
The bell is made of bronze and had an iron clapper and bracket. The iron parts have rusted but the bell itself is in excellent condition. It is inscribed with the maker's name and date: 'MEARS & STAINBANK - LONDON 1893'. It carries an exhortation in Latin: 'LECTUM FUGE, DISCUTE SOMNUM' meaning 'Flee your bed, shake off sleep'
 
   
The date of the bell provides a puzzle. The Memorial Institute was built in 1898. The building stone above the front window bears this date. The bell is dated 1893; five years earlier. Records at the Mears & Stainbank Whitechapel Foundry do not include any details of the original puchaser of the bell. Who was the bell commissioned by? Where was the bell originally intended for? How did it find its way to the Ashley Memorial Institute?
 
   
In 1971 Christopher Pope started investigations into the building and found that grants could be made available if the building was in the ownership of a Hall Management Committee and not the Church. A democratic Hall committee was formed, and on the 6 April 1972 this group purchased the hall from the Salisbury Diocesan Board of Finance for £10.00.
 
   
The hall became part of a registered charity, when the Charity Commissioners approved the constitution. Under the Chairmanship of Christopher Pope local fundraising was vigorously pursued and grants sought for repairs. A Festival at Wrackleford House, the home of the Pope family, was held on 27th, 28th, and 29th July 1973 with picnics, shows, formal meals and other exhibitions based on a Victorian theme. The Hall, now repaired with a lowered ceiling to make it warmer, continued to be used until the late 1990's.
 
   
In March 1987 a substantial part of the village was sold to developers. The first building prospectus mentioned a new village hall to accommodate the expected increase in population.
 
   
By this time the fabric of the old hall was becoming dated and in need of further modernisation but hopes for a new hall were dashed when the developer removed plans for a new hall from the planning application. However in 1990, the developer requested greater density of housing and offered compensation to the village in the form of some amenities.
 
   
Discussions between the Parish Council and the developer began, but a housing price collapse occurred at this time and development work stopped. Mr Christopher Pope resigned as chairman of the Hall Management Committee at this time having been some twenty years in the post. He was succeeded by Andy Aylott, who continued the drive for a new hall.
 
   
A new hall was opened in January 2001. The old hall was sold for conversion to a private dwelling and is now, having been sympathetically restored, offered as holiday accommodation.
 
   
   
Further information is available via the links
below the photograph of the Institute Bell