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Normandy Village Hall

Normandy's original Village Hall
Normandy's original Village Hall.

Few would deny that the gift made by Lady Louisa Roberts in 1921 would play the role that it undoubtedly has in sustaining the community life of the village. The humbleness of that original building was, at that time, in direct contrast to that of the Victoria Hall, Ash and the Memorial Hall, Worplesdon. A booklet published by the authority of the Village Hall Committee in September 1932, entitled "Notes on Normandy Village Hall", provides a very clear picture of the extent to which the hall had been used from 1921. It demonstrated also the number of affiliated user groups, hire charges and the manner in which the regular users not only paid for its use but also donated their surplus funds back into the general funds of the hall. Edward S Hose, a trustee and manager of the hall compiled the notes for the booklet. The purpose of the booklet was to raise money towards the cost of reconstructing the stage and Proscenium, estimated at £45, as a memorial to Theophilus A Allen a founder Trustee, Secretary and Treasurer, who had taken a prominent part in effecting Lady Roberts' benefaction. The initial sales of the booklet in December 1932 raised £1.2s.0d. Further sales were made at the opening of the new stage and the drawing of the new curtains, made by the Co-operative Society, for the commemorative play by the Normandy Amateur Dramatic Club.

From time to time essential repairs, improvements and modifications have been made to the building to keep pace with changing needs and mandatory requirements. Some costs have been met from hire charges but that of major works has generally exceeded such income and the Managers have had to promote special fund raising events. These include fetes started in 1925, weekly whist drives and dances, the Normandy Festivals started in 1966, the Fun Runs in 1984 and the 100 club formed in 1986. Since 1960, some financial assistance has been secured by grants from outside bodies including the borough and parish councils.

The hall has always been well used, often for seven days of the week over long periods and with the occasional request for use beyond midnight. There have been many demands for regular uses that have had to be refused simply because the hall was fully booked. In 1967 there were 27 active societies and organisations using the hall on a regular basis. A low profile group using the hall occasionally, firstly in 1946, has been the Normandy Motor Cycle Club, the present representative of which is Richard Thomas. Interestingly there was a Normandy Brass Band that faltered and failed in March 1925 because a replacement percussionist could not be encouraged to join.

Perhaps not so unusual have been Ministry of Information film shows between 1944 and 1950 followed by the more popular current film shows held twice nightly on each Monday until 1953. Surrey County Council held educational classes between 1944 and 1950. Keep fit classes were held for the two years 1984 to 1986. An art club first started in 1965 is still going strong, and recently dog obedience classes were held for a short time. The list is almost endless. An unusual use of the hall but one important to many men and women workers of the village, long before the National Heath Act came into force, was "The Slate Club", an illness and death benefit fund run by the hall managers between 1939 and 1958.

Despite the fact that in 1921 the original hall building was second hand and was not a "permanent structure", it has none the less stood the tests of continual use and the passing of time. It has provided nearly 80 years of service to the community. In many ways it has been a "flexible friend". Also it has had its critics. Successive trustees and managers have considered and resisted pressure to replace the hall. In 1992/3, for the first time ever, the financial climate and the acquisition of land was conducive to positive action for relocation. The Normandy Village Hall Trustees, therefore, joined with the Normandy Parish Council, Normandy Bowling Club and Guildford Archery Club to form a partnership to develop the Manor Fruit Farm site for leisure and recreation

In 1997 the Guildford Borough Council, acting in its capacity as both Planning Authority and owner of the site, finally approved the proposals of the partnership permitting the Parish Council to acquire the Head Lease of the land for 125 years and the Hall Trustees acquired the freehold of their site. Other partners acquired equally long sub-leases from the Parish Council and in 2001 a start was made on the infrastructure.

During the protracted negotiations between the Borough Council and the Partnership, which at times was both vigorous and forceful, the site of the old vacated hall became the focus of attention of a growing number of prospective purchasers. The site, acquired eventually by Holmbury Developments of Weston Farm, Albury, now supports a small compact housing estate, appropriately named "Old Hall Close".

As the old hall was demolished by McKenna Demolitions in February 2002, so Wessex Frame Buildings started work on the new hall at Manor Fruit Farm. John Sherwood, a retired farmer and member of Normandy Historians, enjoying a second career in woodcraft, recovered pieces of timber from the old hall, from which he fashioned a Gavel and Block that he presented to Normandy Historians.

Old hall being demolished

 

The old hall being demolished by McKenna Demolitions in February 2002.

"Old Hall Close"

 

The small compact housing estate, appropriately named "Old Hall Close".
On the roof of the new hall proudly stands "Norman" as a weathervane. (for more on "Norman" and the weathervane Click Here). Equally and appropriately, the new Normandy Village Hall was the first "new build" to be completed and opened its doors for business on Click to see an enlargementMonday the 17th February 2003. The following day, the 18th February, Normandy Historians held their Annual General Meeting in the small hall and continue to meet there for meetings on a regular basis.

Trustees, Managers and guests celebrated the completion of the new hall with a Gala Opening on the evening of Saturday the 17th May 2003.

click on poster to see an enlargement

New Village Hall
The New Hall at Manor Fruit Farm.

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