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A History of Dalham Village Hall

The original Village Hall was erected in 1902 on the instructions of Francis Rhodes to commemorate the memory of his redoubtable brother, Cecil, who had purchased the Dalham Hall Estate in 1900, but died in 1902 before he took up permanent residence. The Village Hall was originally known as The Reading and Recreation Room and a copy of the rather draconian rules are on view in the new building. There is no record of when building became known as The Village Hall and neither is it known why it was never called The Rhodes Memorial Hall but, in any event, it served as a focus for the local community at a time when folk made their own entertainment.

The original building and its surrounding land remained as part of the Estate of Dalham Hall until 1959 when the then owner The Honourable James Philipps conveyed both the building and the land to a Trust. This conveyance, which still serves as the Trust’s Constitution, specifies the duty of the Trustees as being to manage it for the good and benefit of the residents of Dalham and Dunstall Green.

The Village Hall was granted charity status in 1960 and remains a registered charity to this day. In accordance with the original conveyance, there remains a management committee of five elected Trustees plus nominated representatives of user groups. Election and appointment of the Trustees is carried out at a public Annual General Meeting.  All Trustees provide their services on a voluntary and unpaid basis.

In 2000, following several periods of extreme autumn gales, the Trustees felt that the old building was showing signs of its age and commissioned surveyors to inspect the structure. This highlighted extensive deterioration in the timber frame and the recommendation was that steel supports should be fitted to both sides to restrain further outward displacement of the walls.  This would maintain the building whilst a decision was being made on what further action should be taken. Various options were considered before heeding professional advice and electing to rebuild. For the next ten years we were involved in public meetings, surveys, planning consent and, most importantly, fund raising. We were extremely grateful that we had been given the land on which the hall stood because we were able to sell off part of it for £65,000 which boosted our fund raising.

Grants were obtained from Forest Heath District Council £50k; Biffaward £35k; Suffolk Environmental Trust (Viridor Waste Management) £27.5k; Suffolk County Council £20k; Dalham Parish Council £5k. Councillor Chambers donated £3k from the District Council’s Locality Budget.  We recognise and acknowledge the support of Councillor Dicker aided by information provided by the Dalham Parish Plan Team in obtaining the grant from the District Council. All this, together with our own reserves, generous donations from past and present residents and numerous fund-raising activities, enabled us to proceed with the project. We were further greatly assisted at the contract stage by the Property Department of Darley Stud Management Limited, who made available their in-house services team and gathered together the building professionals who delivered the new building so effectively Darley Stud Management Limited also underwrote all the costs involved. We thank Peter Amos, their Managing Director, who made this possible.

The new Village Hall was completed in November 2010 and we hope it will serve “for the good and benefit of the residents of Dalham and Dunstall Green” for at least the next 108 years.

David Wilkinson
November 2010