The History of Ley Hill Memorial Hall

The original hall was built on land donated by Lord Chesham and opened in 1922. Fund raising had been going on for a number of years to complete the building which cost £800

It was largely a wooden construction that required regular coats of exterior creosote. Heat was provided by fuel burning stoves with chimneys, water boiled in a copper above a wood fire and lighting was by oil lamps. There was an exterior lamp above the entrance gate with “War Memorial Institute” printed on it. The hall was dedicated to those from the village who fell in The Great War and was conceived as a place where locals could come and meet; play darts, cards, billiards, read etc. For a small subscription any villager could become a member and use the facilities.

Over the years extensions were added to provide a “scullery” (kitchen), committee room and toilets. Electricity did not arrive in the village until 1930; the Hall was connected in 1932. In 1935 the hall was beautifully decorated for a party commemorating the King’s Silver Jubilee.

The minutes from hall trustees and committee going back to 1922 show that activities in the village have changed little over the years. Annual fetes and flower shows were big attractions, dances and whist drives always popular. Local groups have hired the hall to promote their own activities and annual stage shows have been rehearsed and performed for the collective enjoyment of the community for 90 years now.

During the 2nd World War the A.R.P used the committee room as a first aid post. Evacuee children also took some lessons there. Troops stationed locally were able to use the hall for recreation purposes. The Hall Trustees voted to send every soldier, who had formerly lived in the village, 5 shillings (25p) every Christmas whilst hostilities continued. The annual flower show was suspended until 1947 and committee’s time and effort went into fund raising for the war effort.

After the war things settled down much as they had been, with several of the same people who had founded the Institute still giving their time to the service of the community. Amazingly gas heaters were not installed until 1975, but structural repairs started to become a headache. The Hall committee arranged a party on The Common for Her Majesty’s Silver Jubilee in 1977 and the following year started the regular village newsletter.

By the mid 1990’s a sub-committee was set up to raise funds for an entire rebuild. Once achieved, the beloved old hall was sadly demolished and the new one opened in December 1999 by Lord Chesham. Once again the village hall was designed locally with design echoes from the old hall and built of local materials. However the word “Institute” was dropped from the name of the new building. Later that month the Hall Trustees planted a Christmas tree and sponsored a large party and firework spectacular on the Common to welcome in the new Millennium.

The Golden Jubilee in 2002 saw the Hall Committee stage what was possibly the largest event in its 80 year history. In 2011 solar energy generating panels were fitted to the roof, these panels will give a guaranteed regular income for generations to come. January 2012 saw the 90th anniversary of the Hall’s founding and now we celebrate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

It is amazing to read through the minute books to discover that a relatively small number of people have collectively devoted 90 years to running and maintaining our hall. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude. Some devoted over 50 years, like Miss B Bangay, Mr C Richardson and our own Margaret Long who still attends meetings in her 80s. The village recognised Margaret’s dedication by sponsoring her award of the MBE in 2008.