History of Hastoe Hall tells tale of ‘mini welfare state’

Hastoe Village Hall

Hastoe Village Hall – Picture by Norman Cullen
Reproduced with permission from Carol Cullen

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, Lady Emma Rothschild created, in the words of one author, “a mini welfare state’ around Tring”, and Hastoe Village Hall was amongst the endowments she bestowed.

Built on the site of John Batchelor’s Black Horse pub and brewery and William Wright’s mill, the Hall was opened in 1898 to serve as a social and recreational centre in the midst of an estate bounded by Tring, Wigginton, Buckland Common and Cholesbury.

Hastoe’s Men’s Club flourished at the Hall for decades, providing billiards, skittles and other games for local farm and mill workers, and a well stacked lending library was provided for the villager’s edification. With the benefit of the Hall’s stage and ample space, concerts and pantomimes were regularly presented.

After the death of Lady Emma in 1935, most of the local Rothschild estate was sold at auction, but the Hall was retained by Victor Rothschild with the intention of putting it in trust for the benefit of residents of Hastoe and the surrounding area. The trust deed specifies that the Hall should be used by residents of Hastoe and those living within five miles of the Hall.

Over the last 75 years the Hall has served as a sports centre, as a social centre for teas, fairs, dances, and as an educational facility.

Hastoe Village Hall is the largest village hall in the region of Chiltern hill top villages. It serves a local population of c.82,000 people living and working within fives miles of the Hall.

It provides a home to educational, sporting, charitable and social groups from across the area, living up to its builder’s vision that it should be “used in perpetuity as a non-sectarian and non-political place of recreation, education and social intercourse for the advantage or benefit of the inhabitants of Hastoe and the surrounding district”.

The Hall was built and equipped with a vision of what the local community needed more than a century ago. The Hastoe Village Hall Trust has commenced a restoration project to modernise and equip the Hall for the 21st century, to ensure it is as useful to the community for the next hundred years as it has been for the last.

The work so far is just the beginning of a larger project, designed to restore a unique community asset. Whilst the final plans have yet to be agreed, options under consideration include: a cycle hire facility; provision for rest and refreshments facilities for walkers, local schools, and those on Duke of Edinburgh trips; enhanced sports facilities; provision of amateur dramatics and music and, possibly, enhanced educational facilities.

The Hastoe Village Hall Trust have much work yet to do in order to arrive at a Hall fit for purpose for the next century of service to the community.

For more information visit the website; www.hastoevillagehall.co.uk

By Hastoe Village Hall Trust
31 August 2011

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