Normandy Village Hall - Old and New
Lady Roberts of Henley Park Mansion, widowed in 1913 by the death of Sir Owen Roberts, gave up the greater part of the Mansion for use as a Military Hospital during the 1914 – 1918 War.
After the war the British Red Cross Society offered compensation to Lady Roberts, which she accepted but decided that whatever money was paid to her would be used for the benefit and welfare of people in Normandy. From this emerged the notion for a village hall.
Whatever she may have received, she made £1,000 available for the acquisition of a small piece of land and the purchase of a building.
The land chosen for the hall was at the junction of Station Road and Guildford Road.
Arthur William Milton and Francis Noel Palmer had jointly purchased the Manor Nurseries in 1919 from William Francis Field and they happily conveyed the corner site of the nursery to Lady Roberts as Settlor for £50, which was half the valuation figure of £100. It was their contribution to the scheme.
A Was Department building at Bramshott, Surrey, formely a recreation hut, was bought for £220 and the cost of removal and re-location to Normandy was an additional £500 or thereabouts.
On the 21st September 1921 the hall was “declared open” by Sir Walter Napier of Churt, Surrey.
Essential repairs, improvements and modifications, including the new facing of brickwork of the external walls, were made to the building to keep pace with the changing needs and mandatory requirements. Some costs were met from hire charges but that of major works generally exceeded such income and the Managers had to promote special fund raising events.
Since 1960, some financial assistance was secured by grants from the Borough and the Parish Council.
During its life span the hall provided nearly 80 years of service to the community. In many ways it has been a “flexible friend” and in many aspects the hall been a memorial to Lady Roberts, Trustees and Managers alike, but few would deny that the gift made by Lady Louisa Roberts in 1921 would play the role that it undoubtedly had in sustaining the community life of the village.
The hall had its critics; mainly from those who wished to see the hall replaced with a more modern building but costs were understandably prohibitive.
However, in 1992/93 the improved financial climate and the offer to acquire an alternative site were conductive to position action for relocation.
Thus, in 1994/95 the Hall Trustees joined with the Normandy Parish Council and others to form a partnership to develop the Manor Fruit Farm site in Glaziers Lane.
The approval of the Charity Commisisoners was given for the disposal of the old hall site and the proceeds from the sale to fund the building of a new village hall.
Acting in its capacity as both Planning Authority and owner of the site, the Guildford Borough Council approved the development proposals of the Partners in 1997.
The Parish Council acquired the Head Lease of the Manor Fruit Farm site for 125 years.
The Hall Trustees acquired the freehold of their site.
The development of the land was started in 2001.
The old vacated hall site became the focus of attention of a growing number of prospective purchasers and was acquired eventually by Holmbury Developments of Weston Farm, Albury. They built a small compact housing estate on the site, appropriately named “Old Hall Close”.
The old hall was demolished by McKenna Demolitions in February 2002 and Wessex Frame Buildings started work on the new hall at Manor Fruit Farm.
The New Normandy Village Hall was the first “new build” to be completed on the site and opened its doors for business in February 2003.
Trustees, Managers and guests celebrated the opening of the hall with a Gala Evening of entertainment on Saturday the 17th May 2003.
On the roof of the new hall is a weathervane pointing into the direction “from which the wind cometh”. The weathervane is “Norman”, modelled on the Logo of Normandy Historians, the local history society. It was the brainchild of Christine Wilks, the then wife of Trevor Wilks, the designer of the hall and Chairman of Trustees, who regrettably died the 2nd November 2008.
P T Blakiston
20 January 2010