Sue Solley recently sent me copies of a couple of articles relating to the history of our Parish Hall, written (I believe) by Olive Jameson from the minutes of the Parish hall Committee. The articles have been reproduced verbatim. Sue has also kindly sent me copies of two postcards of the hall to illustrate the article.

Perhaps someone would like to use the minutes to compile the later history of the Hall.

The Building of Great Mongeham Parish Hall

On March 5th, 1928 about forty people assembled in Mongeham School and were addressed by the Rector, the Revd Stanley Swain. He emphasised the need of a Parish Hall and said he was sure that everyone would like to see one erected. Owing to the success of the summer fete, the Church Council had been able to give £50 to start a hall fund. Since then, a Jumble Sale, a Whist Drive and several donations had brought the total to £70. Now was the time to form a committee to run the project. This was speedily done. Seven people were elected and they had not far to look to find a chairman. Who but the Rector? So Mr. Swain became the chairman wrote the minutes of this, the first meeting. They are clear, concise and written in an elegant hand.

The faithful committee met twice more in the month of March, both times at Mr. Solley’s. He then lived at the Manor House.

A treasurer (Mr. Birch) and a secretary (Mr. Coppen) were appointed and then they set about the arduous task of raising the necessary money. Two plans emerged. One was an envelope scheme, easy to understand. Each house was supplied with an envelope containing a card to be filled with coins. When the card was filled, duty was not yet done. A new card was inserted in the envelope. The other brain-wave was a Stop Watch Competition. Its mysterious nature was never revealed in the minutes and for the result we must wait for the August entry. The proceeds of the envelope scheme are not recorded.

A large board was put up on the site bearing the following:-

Site for Mongeham Parish Hall

Subscriptions Wanted

Treasurer Mr. Birch

Busily engaged in administering the two schemes, the committee did not meet until July, when they reported that both the envelopes and the Stop Watch Competition were prospering. They felt in a position to consider plans for the hall. Four meetings were held. “Deep and lengthy discussions” took place. Mr. Phillips was consulted. The outcome was that the hall should be 60 x 30, should cost £690 (or a little less if alterations could be introduced to bring down the price); and it should be completed in four months from August 10th.

A subsequent stipulation that the clinker should be included brought the estimate up to £710. Mr. Phillips was engaged and the contract was signed.

(Should anyone be wondering where the site came from, —– it came from Mr. Solley. But since everyone knew, there was no need to put it in the minutes. The contractor is later referred to as “Mr. Phillips and Son”).

On July 23rd, 1928 a General Meeting was attended by fifteen people. The plans were approved and it was Proposed by Mr. Horton and Seconded by Mr. Church that Great Mongeham Hall be built.

Paying for the Hall

In August we at last have the result of the Stop Watch Competition. A profit of £16/l0/ll was made after deducting the expenses, which amounted to £8/2/7. A toffee raffle at the Flower Show produced £2/10/- and now a Christmas Draw is planned, to be run jointly with the Football Club. The prizes include two geese from Mr. Solley, a turkey from Mr. Church and a sucking pig from Mr, Farrant.

While the money raising continues with unabated zeal, the building is going up and troubles loom. A doubt is felt as to the strength of the walls. After “some heated argument” it was proposed, seconded and carried that “truss brackets be put into the side walls to support principals, cost not to exceed £7”.

By January 8th the hall is up. All thoughts are directed to the Opening Day, February 6th, 1929. The illustrious names sought to perform the ceremony read like an extract from Who’s Who. Alasl none could come. Finally Mr. Ratcliffe J.P. was prevailed upon to do it. A Whist Drive and a Dance were planned and Mr. McCarthy‘s band was engaged. Mrs. Solley was asked to arrange for curtains to be put up and to organise teas.

On the 18th it was observed that the hall had no lighting and on the 25th the tea team found that there was no means of heating water; and no sink. Four lamps each of 200c/p were bought, and a l0 gallon copper and ` a sink installed. Chairs, tables and cups and saucers were hired. But these were details. The main interest was the prizes, to which much thought and many lines of the Minute Book are devoted.

Two days to go and all seems to be in order. But no. We have lamps, but no paraffin; a copper, but no coke. However, the first item on the agenda is still the allocation of prizes for the whist and the raffle. Ballroom crystals take precedence over the fuel, which is eventually bought by Mr. Solley, as one discovers from the minutes of a later meeting, in which a proposal to reimburse him is C/U.

The Opening Day went off successfully and only a week later the irrepressible committee is already to be seen planning to buy a hundred chairs and twelve card tables and is negotiating for a piano. Though inflation has dwarfed the sums so laboriously raised, the efforts and courage of the people concerned cannot be too highly praised.


Question to Conmittee Secretaries ·· Will your Minutes give such a complete account of your thoughts and decisions in fifty years time?

Mrs. Jameson continues her history of Mongeham Parish Hall:

After the grand opening of the hall, the Minute Book becomes more sober in tone. It appears that in spite of the cruel little coin cards, the Stop Watch competition, the Toffee Raffle and many other unrecorded efforts; and in spite of the Christmas draw, the money target was not approached. A group of six people :- Mrs. Wickham, Miss Wickham, Mrs. Birch, Miss Bass, Mr. Solley and Mr. Swain came to the rescue by guaranteeing a Bank loan and by defraying some of the expenses, one of which was the insurance, which was paid by Mr. Solley. In March 1929 this group was formed into a body of Trustees. Deeds were drawn up stating the conditions for hiring the hall and laying upon the committee the duty of repaying the Trustees out of the takings.

The expenses seem to have been endless. The hall was equipped with everything from a scrubbing brush to a clock. Whatever anyone proposed was C/U. A caretaker was deemed to be a prime necessity. Mr. Brett was preferred of the two applicants. His salary was £l0 a year, to be paid quarterly.

Electricity reached the village in 1934. The hall was wired and ` fitted by S. Kent Electricity Power for £l6/19/-. Gas followed two years later and the heating (?) was installed. Main drainage arrived at about the same time and the cloakrooms had to be altered in order to be connected.

(handwritten note :- The drainage did not arrive but it was expected and the alteration to the cloakroom was approved Feb 1936)

It was one thing after another and the overdraft shrank very slowly. In l937 only £13 could be lopped off and the debt stood at £224. The next year was a bumper one, leaving £l50/12/9 outstanding.

During the war there are no minutes, but in 1946, when they are resumed, it is plain that the hall has undergone military occupation. As far as the overdraft is concerned, salvation came in the form of £75 from the army for “dilapidations and a portion of the rent still owing”. The overdraft at last got into single figures, though only just: £9/9/10 remained.

The next year (1947), this was paid off and the honorary secretary, at this time Mr. Farrant, who gave the sucking pig for the Draw, told the committee that several of the guarantors had asked to be released, since the hall was now so1vent. Mrs. Solley proposed and Mrs. Wellard seconded that Mr. Swain, Mrs. Wickham, Mrs. Birch and Miss Bass be released from their responsibilities. Mr. Swain was by then three persons ago. He had left the parish in 1934. Mr. Solley continued as a guarantor to a limit of £100. The sixth Trustee, Miss Wickham had left Mongeham long ago and ls thought to have been no longer living. She is not referred to in the minutes.

So finally, after eighteen years, the long struggle was over, But was it? The hall still has to work hard for its living.

The following note from the Church Monthly for the parishes of Walmer and Great Mongeham dated January 1946 records the return of the hall to the village after the war:


School and Parish Hall.

Both these buildings have now been released by the military ·authorities. The School Managers, in conjunction with the Diocesan Education Committee and the, Kent Education Committee, are considering .carefully the future of the School in the light of the new Education Act. The Parish Hall Committee is making plans {to strengthen itself `(until the next election) by the inclusion of representatives of those organisations which make use of the Hall, and is giving full consideration to the means by which the Hall can best serve the village, and at the same time pay its way. For; the benefit of newcomers it should be pointed out that this not a Church Hall but a Village Hall, and that the inhabitants as a whole are responsible through their elected Committee for its management and financial stability. According to the Trust Deed the Committee will be re-elected at the Annual Meeting in June next.