Ilton Village Hall

Ilton Memorial Hall

This was the name given to the old hall that stood on the same site as the current new hall, in Copse Lane.  The villagers wanted a permanent site for a new village hall and the idea really took off in early 1945 when Mr F Hayman, then Chairman of Ilton Parish Council, offered a building of his (now 3 bungalows known as Pound Close) as a gift to the village. This offer was then put forward to a public meeting on 8th March 1945 and accepted unanimously – many substantial contributions to a building fund were made on the spot.  The following is an extract from the minutes taken that night:

“The meeting which was well attended, received Mr Hayman’s offer very enthusiastically. The vicar emphasised the need for a hall in the parish for recreational and other purposes. He said he considered Mr Hayman’s fine offer should be accepted and promised to open the subscription list by giving £20 if this was done.

The Chairman inviled other offers, and promises to a total of £100 were forthcoming from people present at the meeting, then accepted this fine offer of Mr Hayman’s. A committee was then formed, comprising;

Messrs J. Wilkinson, Chairman, W.E. Tancock, Vice-Chairman & Secretary, F. Hayman, Treasurer, Rev J.E. Rogers. Messrs L. Trott, C. Guppy, R. Tucker, A. Baker, R. Lock, F. Warfield, E. Goodland, T. Horsey and V. Offer”

Unfortunately by the end of May, after a survey by architects H.S.W. Stone & Partners of Taunton, the building was found to be too costly to repair. Such was the generosity of Mr Hayman, on hearing the disappointing news, he proposed that his building be sold and the proceeds put with the contributions towards the cost of a new hall. It took another 3 years before a solution was found – Mr Goodland, of Ashford House, Ilton’s representative on the Chard Rural District Council, (who controlled the old wartime buildings left in the village), managed to secure an offer from the Council for a spacious disused hut in Rod Lane, (hut no. 31 – formerly the laundry building.) However, the offer was a temporary one and the committee had to agree to a lease which meant eating into the funds already raised and being put aside for a permanent building, but after much thought, and as no solution, both practicable and financial, was in sight for a permanent structure the committee accepted the offer and the lease was finally completed on October 9th 1948.

However, just 4 months later, and before any works had started on Hut No 31, it is recorded in the minutes that Mr L. Stone suggested that Hut no 3 Copse Lane should be substituted for Hut 31 as a temporary hall! He noted that, “although the hall was substantially smaller, it was in good repair, adjacent to huts already in use by the cricket club, in the centre of the village and would therefore serve adequately as a village hall.” And that is exactly what happened!! The hall ran for about 8 months until January 1950 when a fire took hold – thanks to the action of 2 villagers (Mrs Thresher and her son) the hall suffered mainly smoke damage but it took a further 12 months before the hall was deemed fit for purpose and was ‘officially’ opened on Wednesday 14th February 1951.

The ‘temporary’ lease finally ended in December 1958 when the hall bought the whole site for £50.00 from the Chard Rural District Council, and in 1964 the hall was vested with the Charity Commission.

From it’s concept in 1945 until 2006 the hall remained a temporary one!! It was the intention right from the start that a ‘new’ building would be built for the villagers of Ilton but it took 61 years to make it a reality! To quote an historian before me “from the very beginning the old hut of single brick construction has suffered from damp, condensation, inadequate heating and the constant need for repairs. Over the years, under a succession of dedicated Chairmen and their Committees, considerable sums have been raised and spent in attempts to overcome these problems. Most of the work has been done by a few volunteers in the village, without whose persistent efforts and skill the hall would have been abandoned many years ago.”

And so, it was, in November 2006 that, under the Chairmanship of Tony Miller, that the new hall was finally opened. It is a lovely hall and adequate to meet the needs of the villagers. Since it’s opening it has continued to be maintained and, financially speaking, remains sustainable. In 2016 we will celebrate 10 years with a big party – we hope to see you there!