Village Hall – some historic notes.

I have written these notes about the Fenstanton Village Hall entirely from memory as I no longer have any references. so there may be errors in detail but the broad picture is accurate.

The Fenstanton Conservatives had a successful club in the High Street but the lease of its premises must have expired as the Club had no premises in the 1 920 s.

Prominent Conservatives such as Edward Kiddle and Sir Arthur Dilley raised money for a new hall and in 1 926 Henry Johnson gave a piece of land in trust to local Conservatives on which they could build a hall. . It was called The Constitutional Hall In time, due to lack of funds this hall deteriorated and in 1978 was sold to the village for £4,259 of which the Parish Council paid £3,000 on the casting vote of Bill Robins, Chairman of the Parish Council., The Hall was renamed “Fenstanton Village Hall”, and registered as a charity . .

There two forms of trustees initially. Management Trustees and Custodian Trustees . . The first duty of the local Custodian Trustees was to hand over their trusteeship to the Charity Commission but did not do so. They were not to interfere with the work of the Management Trustees.

In 1979 I retired and attended an annual meeting of the Village Hall Committee where I was elected a trustee, At my first meeting I asked for copy of the rules of the committee but the chairman , Arthur Dunn said that they did not worry with such things. . I looked into things and found that Arthur , Bill Robins and the rest were still Custodian Trustees and should not be managing affairs.

A firm of solicitors had been engaged to see to the transfer of trusteeship; I visited them and found them very helpful although I felt them to be an unnecessary expense. These stages of correspondence ensued and achieved absolutely nothing:-

The Charity Commission sent a vesting form to solicitor who sent them for completion to the Custodian Chairman, Arthur Dunn Arthur returned them to the solicitor who passed them on to the Charity Commission. The Charity Commission returned them to the solicitor as they had been completed incorrectly.

The Solicitor sent them back to Arthur for correction After “correction” Arthur returned them to the solicitor who passed on to the Charity Commission Once more the Charity Commission sent them back to the solicitor as they still were not right Back to Arthur went these forms and were not seen again

At my request the Charity Commission sent me the forms stating that now I must get the signature of each of the Trustees which I did and in 1982 an Order was sealed. What the solicitor did I never found out.

At the AGM Bill Robins said that he supposed Arthur would again be in the Chair However I asked for an election and proposed Reg Keyworth Out of the room went the two candidates and returned when called, Arthur returning to the Chair.

Unhappily for him Reg had been elected so at last there was some sense in the administration. Arthur and Bill were true descendants of Mary but it was the Sons of Martha that were needed to get the Hall into shape. Arthur and Bill did not lift a finger to work on the Hall but fortunately there was a good team of practical folk, Tony Hart with assistance from Reg Keyworth rewired the electrical circuits.

Outside the north wall, earth, rubble and dog dirt were two feet deep , higher than the damp course. A team of volunteers with shovels came each evening and excavated , loading the debris into a trailer which Michael Behagg had placed by the Hall. The trailer was emptied each morning and returned for use by the evening. . Damp course and roof gutters were cleared. Derek Holley was one of the volunteers.

We now had to get a licence for Public Entertainment and a District Council inspector gave us our orders. The front door opened up to an immediate drop. The door had to be moved back so that the floor was level either side of the door .. David Smith was the master mind here and I was his assistant. We bought scrap wood from a timber merchant, constructed the porch as it is today and fitted the door.at the rear of this porch Next there came a ramp to give access for the disabled. We built the concrete at the rear entrance door and Tony Hart fix the handrail. .

We are now in the early 1980 s. My wife gave a looking glass for newly built toilets and I used wood from the cases made to transport of household goods from Kuwait. The annex adjacent to the stage at the north eastern corner of the Hall was saturated with dampness. The narrow channel between the outer wall and the concrete council garage’s platform was choked with soil and vegetation. Starting from the northern end I dug and shovelled the earth forward — this was a long job but time was no object. I cut out the ground elder and eventually the channel was cleared well below the damp course. We then painted inside. In two days the damp was back.

My activities were now over. The Committee did run a 12 week Christmas Draw in which Committee Member Emily Smith raised about £700 each year but at last her age caught up so Arthur Dunn took for one season – he made £20 so the next year I tried – I only reached about half of Emily’ s total.

In the following fifteen or more years many good people made enormous improvements especially having a new floor laid, an improved kitchen with a serving hatch installed and so on. For some years Helen Andrews kept things going


From notes produced by Jack Dady, 2nd November 2005

Burial Ground Deeds

Fenstanton Cemetery

The following is a literal transcription of the original.

Thomas Coote, Esq
to
The Fenstanton Burial Board
Dated 1st July 1875

Conveyance of a piece of Freehold Land situate at Fenstanton in the county of Huntingdon

This Indenture made the fifth day of July in the year one thousand eight hundred and seventy five between Thomas Coote of Oaklands Fenstanton in the County of Huntingdon Coal Factor and Coal Merchant of the one part and The Burial Board for the Parish of Fenstanton in the said County of Huntingdon of the other part Witnesseth that he the said Thomas Coote doth hereby freely and voluntarily give grant and convey to the said Burial Board for the Parish of Fenstanton in the said county of Huntingdon their successors and assigns All that piece or parcel of Freehold Land situate in Fenstanton aforesaid containing by estimation Two roods (be the same more or less) bounded on or towards the north and east by other property belonging to the said Thomas Coote from which the same is separated or fenced off on or towards the South by the Public Footpath leading from Fendrayton to Fenstanton and on or towards the West byland of Robert Odams Together with all ways rights and apputenances thereunto belonging And the reversion and reversions remainder and remainders yearly and other rents issues and profits thereof And all the Estate right little interest use trust possession benefit property claim and demand whatsoever both at law and in equity of him the said Thomas Coote in to or upon the same land or premises and every part therof To have and to hold in the said piece or parcel of Freehold Land or ground hereditaments and premises hereinfore mentioned to be hereby granted and conveyed or intended so to be unto the said Burial Board their successors and assigns To the use of the said Burial Board their successors or assigns forever And the said Thomas Coote doth hereby for himself his heirs executors and administrators Covenant with the said Burial Board their successors or assigns that notwithstanding anything by the said Thomas Coote done or knowingly permitted or suffered He the said Thomas Coote now have good right and full power to grant and convey all and singular the said piece or parcel of freehold land or ground hereditaments and premises to the use of the said Burial Board their Successors and assigns according to the true intent and meaning of these presents And further that they the said Burial Board their successors or assigns shall and lawfully at all times and from time to time for ever hereafter peaceably and quietly enter into and upon and have hold use occupy possess and enjoy all and singular the said piece or parcel of freehold land or Ground hereditaments and premises hereinfore mentioned to be hereby granted and conveyed or intended so to be and have and receive the rents issues and profits thereof to and for their own use and benefit without any lawful let suit trouble eviction interruption disturbance or denial whatsoever from the said Thomas Coote or his heirs or from or by any other person or persons whomsoever having or lawfully or equitably claiming and estate right title or interest out of the same land and premises or any part thereof by from through under or in trust for him the said Thomas Coote or by from through or under his acts default privity or procurement And that free and discharged from or otherwise by him the said Thomas Coote his heirs executors or administrators sufficiently indemnified against all estates incumberances claims and demands created occasioned or made by the said Thomas Coote or any person claiming through under or in trust for him And further that he the said Thomas Coote his heirs and all or any other person or persons lawfully or equitably claiming through or in trust for him will at all times at the costs of the said Burial Board their Successors and assigns do and execute all such acts and assurances for further or better assuring all or any of the said Land and premises to the use of the said Burial Board their Successors and assigns as by them shall be reasonably assured And lastly that he the said Thomas Coote his heirs and assigns shall and will from time to time and at all times hereafter (unless prevented by fire or other inevitable accident) upon every reasonable request and at the proper costs and charges of the said Burial Board their Successors and assigns produce and shew forth or cause or procure to be produce and shewn forth in England or Wales but not elsewhere unto the said Burial Board their Successors and assigns or any of them or to their or any of their Counsel Attorney Solicitor or Agent or before any Court of law or equity or commission for the examination of witnesses or otherwise or occasion shall require a certain Indenture bearing date the thirteenth of October One thousand eight hundred and seventy three and made between Charles Walford and Edward Robert Starkie Bence of the one part and the said Thomas Coote of the other part undefaced uncancelled and unobliterated for the proof manifestation defence and support of the title of the said Burial board their Successors or assigns to the said piece or parcel of freehold Land and premises hereinbefore granted and conveyed or intended so to be And also shall and will from time to time and at all times hereafter (unless prevented as aforesaid) at the like request and at the like costs and charges make and deliver or cause to be made and delivered to the said Burial Board their Successors or assigns or any of them and attested or other copies extracts or abstracts of the same Indenture and permit and suffer such copies extracts or abstracts respectively be examined and compared with the original Indenture either by the said Burial Board their Successors and assigns or any of them or any person or persons whom the said Burial board their Successors or assigns should for that purpose appoint In Witness whereof the said parties to these presents have hereunto set their hands and seals the day and year first before written

Signed

Thomas Coote

Signed Sealed and delivered by the within named Thomas Coote in the presence of

Geo Day Sol St Ive, Hunts
John Geeson His Clerk