Sulgrave Village Church Hall – Completion of Re-furbishment Programme.

Project Leader Ingram Lloyd about to be interviewed by a Radio Northampton reporter

During my eighty years in the village and indeed, during my father’s ninety years, many attempts were made to provide Sulgrave with its own village hall. All were doomed to failure; the only available sites were too small; the access was unsuitable; there was not enough car parking; the location would be un-neighbourly in terms of noise. For many years the village school had to provide the venue for the dances and whist drives which were the staple entertainments before the universal ownership of television sets. There were stringent restrictions in respect of alcohol, behaviour and closing times. Smaller meetings were held in the Reading Room/Billiard Room, now the Community Shop.

In the early 1940s, the vicarage outbuildings included a barn like room containing a three quarter sized billiard table. The then vicar, Rev Pakenham-Walsh, was a saintly man; a former missionary in China. A request that village children should be allowed access to the room on a regular basis was granted, under the watchful eye of the Parochial Church Council. I remember it as being extremely cold, dirty, dark and unwelcoming. However, it was “better than nothing” and it had to be obliged to continue to be “better than nothing” for many years, gradually evolving into a sort of surrogate village hall. Various attempts at improvements were made, always causing controversy with half the community considering that the money should be saved for a proper hall and the other half, cynically but accurately knowing that nothing would come of such an initiative.

A kitchen and toilets were added in the seventies. As usual a good number of villagers provided the voluntary labour and an equal number considered the project a complete waste of time. However, with a great deal of muttering about “surely we can do better than this” it served for almost fifty more years of harvest suppers, produce shows and other social functions. For almost twenty years, photographs of these events have appeared on this website.

Then came the mixed blessing of HS2 High Speed Rail. The powers that be realised that little could be done to lessen the impact of such a massive project on a small rural community but perhaps the inhabitants could be somewhat placated by the grant of funds to one or more of their village projects from the “Community and Environment Fund”. The traditional controversy raged, sometimes quite bitterly. There were those who wanted no dealings with HS2 and their “30 pieces of silver”. Others seemed convinced that we should immediately start planning once more for the brand new village hall on the basis that HS2 would provide such a large sum only a further modest push would be needed. £75,000 was offered. Ten times that amount wouldn’t come near funding a new building. Wiser counsels prevailed on the basis that an awful lot of necessary improvements could be made to the church hall with this sum. “Let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth!”

The hall being in ecclesiastical ownership, church permission was sought and granted. Ingram Lloyd on behalf of the  Parochial Church Council became the project leader, supported by Anna Faure on behalf of the Parish Council. Together with other volunteers, several years of hard work on their parts followed, involving the drawing up of plans and specifications, obtaining the necessary consents, appointing contractors and supervising the works.

The old building needed a great deal of remedial work in terms of roofing, damp proofing, new flooring and insulation before thoughts could turn to modern toilets (including those for the disabled) and a brand spanking new kitchen. Eventually all these works were completed and Saturday 9th October declared to be the opening day. In advance of this, Radio Northampton sent a reporter to interview Ingram and Anna about the project and this was duly broadcast.

The much improved building is now “de facto” the “village hall”. However, in order to recognise that it remains a church building it is to be known as “Sulgrave Village Church Hall”.

A superb new dedicated website has been placed on the internet and can be seen at:

Sulgrave Village Hall

A permanent link to this will be placed on this village website.

A few pictures illustrating the project can be seen on the next page. (Click on “Read the rest of this entry”)



Saturday dance in the village school. c 1952. (Photo: Colin Wootton)


Bingo in the Church Hall. c 1962 (Photo: Colin Wootton)


Social occasion in the Church Hall. c 1974. Photographer unknown.


Village Produce Show in the Church Hall in pre-pandemic days.


Ingram and Anna during the Radio Northampton interviews.


Anna extolling the virtues of the new kitchen.


Visitors on the opening day.





New to the village and enjoying the first of many visits to the hall.


First meeting of the Parish Council in the new hall.


The Council in formal session (one Councillor missing)


Colin Wootton


2 Responses to “Sulgrave Village Church Hall – Completion of Re-furbishment Programme.”

  1. Angharad says:

    Incredibly proud and can’t wait to come back and throw a party in the fancy new village hall x

  2. Hywel Lloyd says:

    Great to see the photos, particularly from 1950 and 1970. Don’t fashions change!

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