Village Hall History
During the early 1900s, there was a strong branch of The Church of England Men’s Society in this Parish. There was no fixed place for meeting and consequently in 1910 this branch of the C.S.M.S. decided to try and raise money to provide a building where the men of the Parish could meet for social activities. A fund was launched amongst the members of the congregation of the Parish Church and the result was so encouraging that it was decided that a more ambitious building should be erected. For instance, one Churchwarden gave £100 and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners (now The Church Commissioners) also gave £100 and the site for the building on condition that the control of the new hall be entrusted to the Vicar and Churchwardens in perpetuity.
The site together with the building was conveyed by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to the Bath and Wells Diocesan Trustees and the Vicar and Churchwardens of Combe St. Nicholas in 1912, the Diocese being the holders of the Trust Deed and the Vicar and Churchwardens being the Administrative Trustees. This Trust Deed permitted all the buildings which at any time are erected on the site to be used by the Vicar of Combe St. Nicholas, or his deputy, and the Churchwardens for the following purposes:
- For celebration of Divine Service in accordance with the rights and ceremonies of the Church of England.
- As a Sunday School or Schools under the control of the Vicar for the education of children and adults.
- As a classroom, meeting room or lecture room for members of the Church of England for Confirmation or Communicant Classes or for other religious instruction or for secular instruction under the control of the Vicar.
- As a place of meeting for clerical meetings for social conferences of the clergy, for district visitors, for committees of any Societies, Parochial or otherwise, connected with the Church of England and for meetings to be called in aid or for the benefit of any such Societies.
- For any other meetings or for any other objects, ends or purposes having in view the spiritual, intellectual, moral or social wants of Parishioners and inhabitants of the Parish which the Vicar and Churchwardens may think desirable.
Any deviation from the above conditions required the consent of the Diocesan Trustees and the Diocesan Bishop who had the powers of a visitor over the premises and over the management and control and can issue instructions to the Vicar and Churchwardens.
No part of the hall could be leased or sold or exchanged without the consent of both the Church Commissioners and the Vicar and Churchwardens.
At the beginning of this venture, a Church Committee was formed to raise additional money through the proceeds from concerts and other activities. The building was started chiefly through the efforts of the late Mr. R. Buston and completed in 1912 at the approximate cost of £400. The branch of the C.E.M.S. at first decided to call this building the Church Hall and then on second thoughts decided that the Parish Hall would give a better impression that it could be used by all men of the Parish.
For the first few years this hall was mostly used and maintained by the C.E.M.S. but in 1917 the Hall was administered by the newly formed Church Council, which became legally responsible for the finances. Because other Parish interests then made use of it a further room was added in 1926 at a cost of just under £200, the greater part of this being given by members of the Church Council and congregation and the balance being repaid over next few years from proceeds of various activities. From then until after the Second World War the hall remained unaltered, being without sanitation, water or furniture.
Prior to D-Day, the Hall was occupied by US troops. After the Second World War the Parochial Church Council decided that the hall should be provided with a water supply, internal sanitation and cloakrooms. Through appeals to the Church members and by various activities and loans from the Parochial Church Council, this work was carried out in 1952 at a cost of £900. Ten years later further improvements were undertaken and included a small room being built at the back of the stage on the same level and in 1967 these were completed at a cost of another £900. This money having been initially loaned by the Parochial Church Council, was eventually repaid from the proceeds of Church bazaars, fetes etc.
Then in 1972 a kitchen was added and a new stage erected at a cost of over £1,000. Two years later the roof was retiled and repaired at a cost of nearly £500. The money for this was raised by Church fetes and bazaars and a donation of £300 from the former Chard Rural District Council. In 1979 Combe Gala Committee gave £650 towards refurnishing the Hall.
In 1987 the Hall was leased to a Trust. A Board of Trustees with representatives from various parish organisations was made responsible for the Hall, with four independent Trustees who hold the position of officers with responsibility for day-to-day management.
In 1988 the roof was repaired and the entrance door moved to the side. The toilets were modernised with entrances from the entrance foyer rather than the main hall. In subsequent years further capital works were undertaken, including the installation of new central heating, toilet facilities for the disabled, a hearing loop system, a new floor, upgraded electrics and lighting and a new window at the front of the building.
Subsequent work has included a complete refurbishment of the kitchen to comply with modern health and safety requirements, and greatly improved toilet facilities, with toilets for disabled people and gentlemen accessed from the entrance foyer and a ladies’ toilet accessed from the main hall.
A number of items are displayed at the Hall, including a memorial to the men of the parish who died in the 2nd World War, a memorial commemorating the marriage of the Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer donated by the Young Farmers and a tapestry showing parish scenes. The tapestry was executed by ladies of the parish and presented in April 2000.