A History of the Hall

In 1815 Thomas Watson who owned the 3 cottages (South View), next to what is now the Village Hall, gave a piece of land on which to build a Wesleyan chapel. The chapel was used as a place of worship for more than 100 years. Records show that in 1835 Wesleyan Methodists were attending the chapel on a regular basis as it had become part of the Bedale Circuit. On 22 September 1927, at a quarterly meeting of the Bedale Circuit, it was decided that, in the interests of the Circuit, the chapel at Morton-on-Swale must close its doors, due to poor attendance, and be sold.

1944 Front door blocked upIn May 1928 the chapel was sold to Thomas Humphrey - Gentleman of Ainderby Hall, and in April 1936 it was sold by Thomas Humphrey to four local people for £135, and they became “Holding Trustees” of the building and land.  The chapel was no longer a place of worship and its new function was to be used as a Parish Hall for the inhabitants of Morton-on-Swale. After a brief closure the hall was reopened for recreational activities in the 1940’s by the newly formed Whist Club. During this period the main entrance, which was situated in the middle of the building flanked by 2 large windows was partially blocked up and replaced by a new smaller window. The sandstone archway was kept in place. A new entrance was situated at the side of the building.

In 1957 the hall was leased to North Yorkshire County Council for a number of years for educational purposes for adults and children with “special needs”. As part of the agreement the hall had an extension added to the side of the building incorporating a kitchen and a toilet. In the main hall a false a ceiling was added blocking up 2 side windows, and the balcony area. The balcony area was accessible only by a heavy wooden loft ladder and was used to store furniture etc. The children and adults occupied the hall during the daytime. In the evenings the hall could be hired out for 4 shillings a night. A Horticultural club was formed in 1959 and held many meetings and an annual flower and vegetable show. In the 1960s, the Over 60s club was formed and had a large membership. The highlight of this club was the annual coach outing. During the 60s there was a thriving Young Wives club and a Youth club.

In the 90s the Hall was managed by the Parish Council. During this time a new wooden floor was fitted in the main hall.

In 2006 a new Village Hall management committee was elected to manage the affairs of the Village Hall. Their first task was to sort out the legal ownership of the hall as most of the original Trustees had died. In 2009 four new Trustees were appointed as” Holding Trustees” to hold “Title” of the Village Hall for the residents of Morton-on-Swale, and the Village Hall management committee was to continue managing the Hall.

During this time a lottery grant of £10,000 from Awards for All was awarded to upgrade the toilets,to provide a disabled toilet and to remove asbestos from the extension roof.

In 2009 a partial structure survey of the hall was carried out showing that the roof was in need of urgent attention. In 2010 the Trustees and the management committee decided to plan a 3-phase refurbishment of the village hall to be funded by grants and local fundraising. The committee secured 14 grants and as everyone became available a new phase of work began.

Taking the roof offIn 2011 work started on phase 1 of the project, the priority being a new roof, insulation and treatment of the timbers. The false ceiling in the main hall was pulled down to open up the balcony area and expose the village hall's original wooden ceiling. Repairs to the windows in the main hall were carried out as a short term measure and a new heating system and ceiling fan was installed.

On completion of this phase and awarding of further grants the second phase began. This phase consisted of installing a new staircase and balustrade to the balcony area, re-configuration of the kitchen consisted of taking away the serving hatch and putting in a new doorway. The original doorway to the kitchen was blocked up and a new cupboard for the use of the management committee was installed next to the toilets, new flooring for the kitchen was also done. The storeroom at the rear of the hall was boarded out. All new plasterwork was painted. (a full decoration of the hall could not be done due to conditions of grants- classed as maintenance). The storeroom and the kitchen was decorated by volunteers. New windows were installed in the annexe area.

Phase 3 consisted of the installation of 10 new bespoke windows in the main hall. Planning for this phase took a lot of hard work getting everything right for the ‘Listed Building’ department to give permission to carry out the works. Following a lot of discussions and visits from Listed Building the glass for the new windows was finally sorted out - only for our supplier to run out of glass! The glass was eventually sourced from England and America. Outside, new railings and a gate were erected to make it safer for young children visiting the hall (we had a toddler group using the hall at this time). The railings were painted by the committee and volunteers.

Job Done November 2011 compressed.jpgThe last phase of the refurbishment came in under budget and the funder Yorventure agreed that the money could be used to replace the loose chippings in front of the main building with paving stones. Later it was discovered that the block paving had a few issues and the committee decided to pave in front of the main doorway. The extension was painted and new guttering put in place.

New outside lights and emergency lights were installed and a new outdoor socket was installed next to the main door. A new P.A .System was installed due to receiving a donation from a resident of Morton-on-Swale.

The village hall obtained Charity status and became a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (C.I.O) which is a new legal form for a charity. (We were entered on the register of Charities in Oct 2015 and the land registry and full transfer in February 2016.) It is a new incorporated form of charity which is not a limited company or subject to company regulations. C.I.O is a new form of legal entity, designed for non-profit organisations in the UK, the basic framework for which was created by the Charities Act 2011:-

  • The Charitable Incorporated Organisation (General) Regulations 2012
  • The Charitable Incorporated Organisation (Insolvency and Dissolution) Regulations 2012.

Our Charity Number is 1163881. The Charity is not owned by anyone. The Charity is controlled and its assets held in trust by a board of Trustees. The Trustees are responsible in law for ensuring that the charity is well run to deliver its charitable purpose for the public benefits as set out in their constitution.

The Village Hall is a catalyst for participation in a range of activities that contributes to the social life of our community. It provides access to a range of services and activities for the residents of Morton-on-Swale and enables local groups to thrive. We welcome all residents in the community who have the most need for support and shared activities that a meeting place can provide. The service the Village Hall delivers is a provision of location for community cohesion and social inclusion.

Poppies on Hall railingsBefore Covid the Village Hall provided many fitness and recreational opportunities to interact with other people of the community. The Trustees encouraged a sense of commitment and belonging to our village and encouraged people to further their involvement in their community. To participate in community-focused celebrations, events and opportunities, eg community coffee mornings, sales, quizzes, film nights, ; padding:10pxcommunity.

During lock-downs due to Covid-19 the Village Hall showed its respect for Remembrance Sunday by a display of poppies on the village hall railings knitted by local residents.  The Christmas tree was erected and its lights were an inspiring site even when Christmas was cancelled.

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The following PDF files contain a photographic record of the various stages of the Hall Refurbishment project.  Click on the links to view these pictures (TIP: Right-click the link and select "Open Link In New Tab" to make sure you stay connected to the Morton-on-Swale Parish Council website after you have finished viewing):-

Removing the Suspended Ceiling to Reveal Original
The windows and front door before the refurb work
Work In Progress