Over 100 years ago the village worked together to honour the memory of those lost in the Great War, and those who died following injury or illness.
At the same time, the aim was very much to provide a room ‘fitted in every way for public meetings, with arrangements for concerts and theatricals – a building which all hoped would be a real and lasting centre for community life and interest in the village’ (North Wilts Herald 2 May 1919/British Newspaper Archive). After due deliberation and a review of the money raised, the Memorial Hall Committee accepted the tender of Messrs Moulding Bros. The sum of £1,000 was in hand from the fundraising that began in 1917; the cost of building had fallen, and the successful tender was for £1,200. The contract was signed on 13th December 1921.
By 9th January 1922 it was decided that the names should be outside the Hall and suitable stones were on order. Miss Todd of Hampstead Cottage proposed that the list of names in Church (unveiled in March 1920) should be inscribed and ‘those who had died since’ also included. The building committee were authorised to arrange for a foundation laying ceremony when the right time arrived. It must have been such a relief that the long years of loss and huge efforts for raising funds were finally moving towards that common aim: community remembrance and a venue for people to gather.
With the festive season just over, is it too soon to write about food?
The Senior Citizen’s Christmas Dinner (then known as ‘The Old People’s Tea) moved into the Memorial Hall during the 1920s, has endured since, and took place again in 2022, with great success. Well done to all concerned!
When war came again, the Hall was requisitioned for use by the troops billeted in the village from October 1939. There was a Canteen Manager, Chef, Barman and Vegetable Cook; it certainly seems that the troops were very well fed and watered!
American veterans returned in June 1974, and by their special request sat down to lunch with Fish & Chips in the Memorial Hall. In 1994 the Parish Council hosted the Troop Carrier Veterans’ Association with tea and scones for the presentation of a commemorative plaque to the 436th that operated from Membury. In 2015 villagers and visitors alike dined on roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, organised by the Aldbourne Community Heritage Group and a tour group from the World War II Museum in New Orleans. Photos can be found on the Aldbourne Village Gallery https://www.flickr.com/photos/aldbournevillagegallery/albums/72157651910392603
How many of us in the present day have attended community events in the Hall, or hope to in the future? There have been a full range of refreshments, from comfortable chats with tea and biscuits to themed concerts with three course meals. Luncheon Club, Soup & Puddings, Barn Dances and Quiz Night Suppers, Scouts and Guides pop-up cafés and that great favourite, Big Breakfasts. The Memorial Hall is now fully open for all activities – for more information or to book, please visit https://wvha.org.uk/listing/aldbourne-memorial-hall/Originally published in the February 2022 Dabchick Magazine
If anyone has memories (or photos) to share from past events, please get in touch. We are looking forward to writing more articles, and plans are afoot for events and exhibitions to mark this anniversary year (with tea and cake of course!).