The Victoria Hall was opened by Lady Calthorpe on October 20th 1898 after a year of planning and raising of public subscriptions. The Parish Council had decided to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Silver Jubilee in some way. Social events at that time were held at the Schoolroom, or the White Lion at Hartford Bridge and The Swan pub (now Swan Court).
There had been the usual headaches in the early stages of getting the hall built. The committee had decided to finance the hall through public subscriptions and were greatly helped at the beginning with generous donations of £100 each from Mr Kenwood, Sir Henry Mildmay and Lord Calthorpe. The budget for the building was some £800. The services of the well-known architect TE Colcutt (Imperial College in South Kensington and many other prominent buildings) had been engaged.
The building was to be constructed in the Arts and Crafts style. It is interesting to note that the Village of Hartley Wintney became an “Arts and Crafts centre” at the turn of the century attracting many professionals according to Anne Pitcher in her book ” Hartley Wintney”.
However the lowest of two estimates received for the building works (from Pool and Co) came to £998 and the committee horrified by the amount, immediately set about to limit the scale of the plans. As it transpired Lord Calthorpe and Mr Kennedy each promised an additional £100 each “on condition that the Hall was built according to the original plans”
There were the inevitable building delays but the hall was finally ready and opened by Lady Calthorpe on 20th October 1898. The total amount of subscriptions raised was £950 and an overdraft had been secured with the London and County Bank at Basingstoke.
After the grand opening there are no further records of Minutes until 1921, when the question of the building of a further small hall was on the agenda. This was to become the Edward Hall, built to commemorate the reign of King Edward V11, and it was duly constructed at the back of the Victoria Hall.
The cost was again funded by public subscription, members of the village being asked to “buy a brick”, and the usual donations from benefactors. The Opening Ceremony was carried out by the Duchess of Wellington. A Loan was also arranged with the London and County Bank.
Following a long and challenging period between 1898 and 1995, the Parish Council decided that a new Scheme with the Charity Commissioners should be produced, which allowed for non-Parish Councillors, in addition to Parish Councillors, to serve on a new Management Committee. At the Parish Annual Assembly on April 1996 a new management committee was elected with a new chairman.
This committee met for the first time on June 1996 and set to work to draw up and implement viable and affordable plans for the alteration and improvement of the halls to bring them up to the standard for the new millennium.
Formed in June 1996, The Victoria Hall Charity and Management Committee has been privileged in taking an active part to restore the Hall to its original design and to provide modern facilities that should sustain the building for a further 100 years.
It is with many grateful thanks for the generosity of the whole community in supporting fundraising events, making donations and providing grants, that it has been at all possible to restore the Victoria Hall.
There is still much to do in restoring the stage, lower Edward Hall and clock tower all of which are planned for completion in 2008. More funds are required but the majority of the work has been completed successfully.
It is also with many thanks for the hard and dedicated work of the Charity Trustees and Victoria Hall Management Committee who have stoically continued their relentless pursuit of fundraising and so provide for the needs of the community.