Village Hall

The article below, about the history of village halls in Sibford, was published in a souvenir booklet marking the opening of the current hall in 1957. The photo is of the old hall, 1919 – 1934, now demolished.

Some thoughts on the years leading to the Current Village Hall


Previous to the year 1914 any concerts, dances, dinners, parish teas. etc., took place in the Village School, or in the old dining hall at the Friends’ School, a temporary stage of forms and trestle table tops being erected. Of course no dances were permitted at the Friends’ School in those days: only the use of the piano was allowed.

I have some recollection that at Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 a tea or dinner took place in the barn opposite Paradise House, Sibford Ferris. Up to 1914 quite a lot of use was made of the Village School for concerts, dances (possibly four in a year), country dancing classes, Morris dancing, and the great annual event – Sibford Club Dinner. It must be remembered that up to this time there was no means of getting to Banbury except on Thursday and Saturday by the carrier’s horse and cart, the journey taking approximately four hours, and even in late 1914 the moving pictures had only, just arrived in Banbury.

Before 1914 Sibford had two uniformed brass bands, the Old Band whose headquarters were at The Bishop Blaize, and the Temperance Band, who used the Mission Room. The Band of Hope and Adult School also used the Mission Room, and about 1913 a string band was formed with quite a lot of novices: they practiced in Mr. Inns’ plumbers’ shop at the Post Office, and when they had had a full night practicing “Art thou weary?” the Post Office people were very weary. In fact they came out and told us so.

The Play scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream was produced by Mr. Frank Lascelles in the summer of 1912 as a sideshow at a Fete held at the Manor, and was thought so successful by Mr. Lascelles that a tour of some towns was carried out in 1913. The places visited were Oxford, Newbury, Evesham, Wolverton, Stratford-on-Avon, Banbury. Salisbury, Winchester, and Bournemouth.

During 1919-33 Mr. Lascelles was identified with a wooden hut that was used as a village hall, the entrance being opposite the Co-operative Stores. After his death. the people of Sibford learned with dismay that the Hall they thought belonged to Sibford had, in fact, never done so, and further that it was, with the rest of the Lascelles estate, heavily mortgaged. A meeting of the Sibfords was called and a committee was appointed, under the chairmanship of myself, to meet the mortgagee and fight to save the Hall if possible, and any of the furnishings. After many meetings it was found impossible to save the Hall, but most of the furnishings were saved. It was decided to start a fund for obtaining a new Hall, and meanwhile the committee took steps to rent the old Hall front the mortgagees as a headquarters for events to swell this fund. Up to the outbreak of the 1939) war various efforts had raised upwards of £250. A goodly amount of this sum was raised by an annual fete, held in the grounds of the Friends School at The Hill, by kind permission of the Headmaster.

After the war Mr. Hiles converted a coach house and workshop at Sibford Ferris into a room for social activities, and it was in great demand. In due course Mr. Carruth was elected chairman of the Village Hall Committee and a scheme he started took the fund into the thousands. A large amount of work was done by the Hall Committee; a fete held just after the war raised over £200. With the purchase of the present site and acceptance by the villagers of the plans drawn up by Mr. Hunt, a stone-built hall was hoped for in the near future. But the Korean crisis of 1951 cancelled out any hope of grants from Government sources, so everything was stopped again.

The village, at the annual Hall meeting, felt that if it were possible to obtain a disused Y.M.C.A. Hall or other large building; from or Army sites this should be explored, and many journeys were made by the committee to see various buildings but most of them were too narrow and wider ones had been built of brick and cement and so were not, removable, so this also had to be dropped.