The three lives of the 130-year-old ‘temporary’ building

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The Ibberton, Belchalwell and Woolland Village Hall – from a tin church to a thriving community hub, with state of the art big screen facilities

The Ibberton, Belchalwell and Woolland Village Hall

Nestled in the tranquil embrace of North Dorset lies the Ibberton, Belchalwell and Woolland Village Hall. The unassuming building has constantly evolved over the course of its 130-year existence to continue meeting the ever-changing needs of its three small rural communities.
In 1892, when the roofs of the local churches in Ibberton and Belchalwell had crumbled, local carpenter George Loder, undertook the construction of a temporary corrugated-iron church on glebe land at Ibberton. The simple structure served as a place of worship and community gathering while Reverend L. S. Plowman began extensive fundraising efforts to restore the churches. In July 1909, Ibberton and Belchalwell welcomed back their places of worship, and the temporary church took on a new role as a Church Room for meetings, clubs, and entertainment. The hall’s altar was transformed into a makeshift stage, and was the setting for much homegrown entertainment including singing, handbells and acting with improvised costumes. Christmas parties were a much-loved regular event and they continue to this day.

A Village Hall
In 1948, the hall and its surrounding glebe land were sold to the Pitt-Rivers Estate, ushering in a new era as the Church Room became the official Village Hall, with its own committee and trustees. In 1977 the hall was finally purchased for £250.
The hall’s story took another turn in 1996 when ‘temporary’ centenarian was discovered to be leaning. With grants and local fundraising efforts, steel girders were installed to strengthen the structure. Three years later the 107-year-old windows were needing attention. At the same time grants allowed the electric heating and the 1950’s kitchen – complete with a butler sink and camping gas stove – were updated, and a disabled toilet and ramp access were added.
In 2001, a grand reopening marked a new chapter in the hall’s history, with the modern amenities creating a vibrant community hub.

Popcorn and ice cream,
bar and raffle
ibbertonvillagehall@gmail.com
or 07771 561099 for tickets

Another facelift
The latest hall project has just completed – a major upgrade of the audiovisual equipment, with LED stage lighting, and an electric film screen and projector.
This new upgraded equipment will enable the trustees and committee to offer new ways to bring the community together through films, theatre and live music, bringing the big screen into the small hall.
The hall also has a new gigabit fibre broadband connection supplied by Wessex Internet, which will enable streaming of live arts performances, talks and training. They will be further enhanced by the energy efficient, maintainable, stage professional lighting.
As it looks forward to the next 130 years, the Ibberton, Belchalwell and Woolland Village Hall stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of rural communities, and is still here thanks to the dedication of its residents and the support of generous organisations.

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