Societies and the Parish Hall



The schoolroom was the centre of social activity in the past. The Guides, Brownies, Scouts, Cubs and the GFS which the O’Neills ran, all met there, the 6d. dances in aid of one good cause or another were held there.

The exception was the Women’s Institute which first started in November 1920 and held its meetings for the first eight years at the home of its President, Mrs Gerard Stephens of Cagebrook.

There was also in the village at this time, an active Men’ s Club with between 30 and 40 members who formed the crack air gun shooting team of the district. Members paid a subscription of 2/- a year and met weekly to practise shooting, play chess or quoits or whist. The highspot of their year was the Boxing Day Whist Drive and, at the end of the shooting season, a big dinner, free to members, which neighbouring clubs attended and at which the shooting prizes were awarded.

Mrs Clarke Williams, who was the Secretary of the WI and members of the Men’s Club, began about 1925 to discuss the building of a Parish Hall. Joint meetings were held and Mrs Williams herself offered to donate land for the purpose near The Hydes.

Eventually, however, Sir Charles Pulley gave what was thought to be a more suitable plot next to the school.

Then began the money-raising efforts, the dances, the whist drives, the jumble sales. Eventually the stage was reached when about £487 was in the kitty and though this wasn’t enough for the purpose, it was felt that the village just couldn’t raise any more money in gifts or efforts.

A loan from the Rural Community Council was then suggested and actually made, but this body made a perfectly sensible proviso that a member of each body using the hall should be represented on the Committee. The only snag was that the Eaton Bishop hierarchy being largely vested as it was in the hands of one family, to carry out this wish would have meant the presence on the Committee of five O’Neills!

Chapel contributors felt that the Church should not perhaps be so strongly represented on it and an alternative had to be sought.

It was Mr George Lloyd, Sir Charles’ groom, who came forward with the idea which brought the plan to fruition. At a specially called meeting, he suggested that the villagers themselves should lend the money, free of interest.

This plan met with an immediate response and loans ranging from 5/- to £10 came in. Eventually there was enough money, the work was put in hand, the hall built and it was opened in January 1928.

The total cost was £590.17.0. and before long loans were being repaid, smallest first. Altogether £103.l0.0. was contributed by the lending scheme.

Today the hall is free of debt, electricity has been installed, water is shortly to be laid on, several villagers having undertaken to do the necessary excavations. The WI provided new curtains three years ago and on September 3rd this year, a village fete is to be held to raise money to buy new chairs and stage curtains. When they have been provided, we shall have one of the pleasantest halls in the county - thanks to the foresight, energy and initiative of those who suggested and carried through the scheme.

There is a footnote to the projected borrowing of money from the Rural Community Council. The money had actually been handed over before the snags became apparent, so it was than handed back. Unfortunately the official into whose hands it arrived “forgot” to bank it - and went to jail.

In its 35 years the WI has had its vicissitudes, dropping one winter day to a total of three members, but membership has ranged between 20 and 30 and it is today one of the most effective forces in the life of the village.

The Men’s Club could not carry on during the war and has not been re-started but there is a Youth Club which meets in the Parish Hall on Wednesday evenings. In summer they swim and sail in their own canoe on the river. Graham Morgan has run it for two years and Stanley Holden will take over in September.

There are also six Cubs in the village who go each Monday evening to attend the meetings of the Holmer pack by the kindness of Mr Leslie Powell who takes and brings them back.