History

History of South Cerney Village Hall taken from the Wilts and Glos Standard in 1925

It was on May 16th 1922 that a meeting of the parishioners was called to consider an offer made by Captain E T Cripps, who had acquired an old thatched barn in School Lane, and was now offering the site and the building to the village for conversion to a village hall.

At that time the village had no communal hall that could adequately accommodate the many social gatherings that were now happening in the life of the village. However the state of the barn at that stage showed that some imagination was needed to conceive that this derelict looking erection was capable of affording the villagers what they had in mind, and they may be excused if they did not immediately jump at what they freely admitted to be a generous offer. There were, however, four solid walls and a wonderful thatched roof  which an estimate showed could be converted into a suitable hall for the moderate sum of £660. A committee were then appointed to consider this offer and any alternative proposals but they were soon convinced that the offer by Captain Cripps was much too good to be missed.

The committee then set themselves the task to raise the greater proportion of the money needed, a task that was made considerably less difficult by the public-spirited action of Mr Reginald A Berkeley, a local builder, who kindly undertook, as his personal contribution to the funds, to do the whole of the necessary building work without profit. The whole of the masonry was re-faced, a handsome entrance porch added and with several stone mullioned and leaded windows there resulted a building of a pleasing appearance and thoroughly in keeping with its surrounding.  The internal transformation was equally complete.  The walls were plastered and the lower portions boarded to a height of between three and four feet.  The original oak principals supporting the roof were left intact and are still to be seen till they disappear into the newly-laid ceiling.

Artificial lighting was initially provided by four oil lamps suspended from the ceiling but pipes were laid under the floor for the use with acetylene gas when footlights are required for a stage entertainment.  A scenic drop curtain, formerly in use at Cirencester, was a permanent fixture and seating accommodation was provided by a large number of folding chairs donated by the ex-servicemen of the village, who have a strong representation on the committee.  

The building was opened on Friday May 29th 1925 and was attended by the Countess of Suffolk, Captain E T Cripps MC and many members of his family, the Reverend L Westmacott, Vicar of Cirencester and the Girl Guides, Brownies and school children. Many speeches were made and thanks given to all who had contributed in the renovation of the hall and fitting out. The meeting closed with the National Anthem.