In the Men's Memorial Hall on the 07 December 1937, Mrs Hubert Pilkington opened a Sale of Work in aid of St Ippolyts Church Hall Building Fund. Nathan Cousins presented her with needle purse. The Rev G H Hewitt, Vicar was presented with an envelope containing £50 from an anonymous donor. The sale made £100 and with this money the land was bought. The following year another Sale of Work was held in the same venue and this was opened by Mrs Day formerly of Gosmore House.
The members of the Provisional Committee were Major Usher (Chairman) C W E Ansell (Secretary), J. J. P. Cole (Treasurer) D. S. A. McMurtrie and W. G. Willmott.
Messrs Dawson's (Shefford) Ltd. built the original hall and the architect was Mr Willmott. The building and furniture cost £2,113. Towards this sum there was a grant of £900 by the National Fitness Council, the Diocesan Board contributed £100 and the remainder was raised by donations and fund-raising events.
On the 25 October 1939 following the dedication of the hall by the Rt. Revd H A Skelton, Bishop of Bedford, Major Clemens-Usher introduced the Hon. Mrs David Bowes Lyon who opened the hall. The Rt. Revd. Bishop Burrows retired Bishop of Sheffield gave the vote of thanks.
The first Sale of Work was held in the new Parish Hall on 06 December 1939. Lady Lloyd of Offley performed the opening ceremony and Mrs Kate Amos gave the vote of thanks.
In 1977 a small extension was added to the hall for a kitchen and in 1991/2 this was re-equipped to modern hygiene standards.
The hall has always been a community facility. It was managed by
a Committee on behalf of the Parochial Church Council but was from
the start financially independent of the Church.
The mission of the Hall Committee is to provide the facilities that all its users require to the best possible standard within the financial constraints of an organisation that has to live within its income.
From 1995, the Committee had a vision of building up funds sufficient to carry out major refurbishment or even an extension of the hall. The fund raising began with the first Craft Fair held on Saturday 27 April 1996. A number of other events were held in the hall and funds started to accumulate.
A survey of opinion was carried out both within the Parish by the St Ippolyts Millennium Working Party and amongst the users of the Hall by the Hall Management Committee, from which it appeared that the extension and refurbishment of the hall enjoyed a large measure of public support as a means of marking the Millennium in the Parish.
In 1996, the Parochial Church Council (PCC) were advised that such a project could be a candidate for grant aid from the 21st Century Halls for England Fund, funded by the Millennium Commission and operated on their behalf by Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE). Contact was made with ACRE who advised that amongst other things, for such an application to be successful, they would expect to see support from the local authority to the extent of 20% of total estimated costs.
In January 1997, the Parochial Church Council (PCC) agreed to the establishment of the Hall Project Group. Michael Tatham (PCC), Pam Skeggs (Parish Councillor), Frank Harding and Jean Williams (from existing Management Committee) were the original members.
Colin Eades, a local Architect was appointed the following May and plans were drawn up.
In spring 1997, the North Hertfordshire District Council (NHDC) announced the creation of a Parish Challenge Fund and invited bids from parishes that would be considered on a competitive basis. An application was submitted to NHDC. At the same time an outline application was submitted to ACRE, which was assessed as "eligible".
St Ippolyts Parish Council resolved to contribute 10% of precept being £700 and NHDC resolved to contribute £28,400, as their combined share of estimated costs.
Two formal matters had to be attended to, to qualify for ACRE grant. The Hall had to have its own separate status as a Charity and the Management Committee had to have security of tenure. David Cheetham of Claytons Solicitors was appointed in December 1997 to help pursue these legal aspects and an application was made to the Charity Commission.
After our full application to ACRE had been lodged at the beginning of January 1998 we heard that a total of 365 applications had been received from which 60 would be chosen for conditional grant. On 13 May 1998 we received the marvellous news that we were one of those 60 and had been awarded a Conditional grant of £72,500. One of those conditions was that we had to raise matching funding by the end of April 1999. Bob Reilly, the Hall Treasurer was co-opted in June 1998 and Mary Bradbeer the following October.
A massive Appeal was launched at a Reception on 25 July 1998 and an Appeal brochure was widely distributed. The original target was £36,000 but in the event that figure was too low and by the end of April we had actually raised just under £50,000 and we still needed more.
On the 27 September 1998 the Trust Deed bringing into being the 1998 Parish Hall Charity was signed. The Trust Deed gives the Constitution of the Hall Charity and provides for a Management Committee who become the Charity Trustees.
We received confirmation on the 19 October 1998 that registration as a Charity had been achieved and this enabled us to claim repayment of income tax on the Covenants and Gift Aid Donations.
On the 08 January 1999 approval of a Scheme was made to permit the PCC and the St Albans Diocesan Board of Finance to grant a Lease of the Hall to the Trustees for 125 years. All parties signed the Agreement dated 23 March. The First AGM was held on 31 March 1999.
After the usual Tender procedures and once we had heard that our Agreement with ACRE had passed Audit, we were in a position to appoint a contractor. We appointed County Construction Ltd to carry out the work. The work started on the 4 May and the hall received Practical Completion on the 18 October, this enabled us to move the furniture and equipment back.
Although the new floor in the main hall and the crockery store were not included in our applications for funding, we considered it was necessary to have this work included in the contract. In addition, there has been other necessary work needed during the refurbishment and extension that has resulted in an overall cost increase.
We are very pleased with Colin Eades, our Architect and Boyd Seddon who looked after our interests on site. We are also most satisfied with the quality of work carried out by Mike French (Site Agent) and his team. We are extremely grateful to all those who have made individual contributions in various ways and in particular all those who have helped to organise fund-raising events that have been so successful.
We have paid our own expenses, given freely of our expertise and time throughout this project. We are delighted that our efforts have brought to realization a project that has been discussed for over twenty years and that the community now has a hall to be proud of for many years to come.
The end of the Project was celebrated on Friday evening 19 November 1999.
Michael Tatham, Chairman of the Hall Project Group welcomed the guests. Mr Simon Bowes Lyon, Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire unveiled the Commemorative plaque and the Rt. Hon and Rt. Revd. Lord Runcie of Cuddesdon, gave the address. Frank Harding, Chairman of the Hall Management Committee gave the response
We hope you will all agree that the new improved hall is of an excellent standard fit for the Millennium and for all its many users who were able to resume their meetings in the premises from the 01 November 1999.
Extract from St Ippolyts Parish Hall Souvenir Brochure, compiled and published by St Ippolyts Local History Group, November 1999
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