Throw back Thursday – ‘The dog that saved the Village Hall’
Chawton Village Hall has been active since 1924!
For Village Halls week 2020 we are celebrating the contribution that some of our members have to their community by sharing the history of their hall/community space!
The Hall was built by public subscription. Records show that funds were raised from fetes, dances, jumble sales, whist drives, concerts, bridge tournaments, the sale of a dog (for a guinea) and donations. Some of the villagers donated money to purchase a brick – older members of the village have pointed out ‘their brick(s)’!
The foundation stone for the Hall was laid on 10th, October, 1923 by Sir William Portal a member of the Portal Paper Company, the world’s leading banknote and security paper makers for more than 300 years. His connection with the village was through the Knight family of Chawton House. Underneath the foundation stone were placed a bottle containing an illuminated roll with the names of the 22 villagers who died in the First World War, together with a coin and a newspaper of the date. They have a print of a painting of Sir William, which the hall purchased from Hampshire Council some years ago which hangs in the Committee Room.
There have been nineteen chairmen/women since the Hall opened and at present it is run by a Committee.
In 2011 a Spitfire pilot, Flight Lieutenant Frederick Peter Ferris, was killed in action off the coast of Skegness in 1941 in an engagement with a German bomber.T here is a War Graves Commission headstone in St Nicholas Church Cemetery. After enquiries it was confirmed that he did in fact live in Chawton and his name has been added to the memorial.
The Hall today
The Village Hall has been used for the fireworks and bonfire evenings and an annual village fete. The Hall today is very busy with a bookings every day! Activities include parties, a monthly meeting for the Women’s Institute, Chawton Pre-school and dog training classes. The lady who runs the Dog Training classes is 94 years old, has been hiring the Hall since 1978!
The Hall and Committee room are available to hire FREE of charge to villagers and village societies for fundraising events and meetings.
Some of the hires last year included;
- St Swithin’s School, Winchester using the car park and toilets as a rest and feeding station for the St Swithins run/walk
- Wedding receptions
- The annual Kinkard Beagles West Meon Hunt lunch
- Annual Village pumpkin weigh in party, (the winning pumpkin weighed in at 119lbs)
- ‘Compassionate Friends’, a National Support Group for bereaved parents
‘The dog that saved the Village Hall’
Last year the Hall was hired an 80th birthday party. As a result of some cardboard boxes left on the electric cooker hob and the power left on a small fire broke out. Fortunately some local neighbours were walking their dog across the fields at the back of the Hall and they smelt smoke and could hear the fire alarm sounding. Looking through the kitchen window all they could see was smoke and rang the Fire Brigade. Luckily they were there within ten minutes… the Fire Brigade, informed that if they had got there five minutes later there could have been a major incident and would have probably lost the kitchen and possibly the Hall!
The Treasurer, Bob Brown was told that the neighbours usually take the dog for a walk at around 8.30pm every night, but that night they held a dinner party and went out later. How lucky was that! Bob is thinking of putting up a photo of the dog in the Committee room!