Eastwell Village Hall

Eastwell Village Hall on opening day

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Eastwell Reminiscences

By itfc1949, Jul 26 2014 08:01AM

What are your memories of life in Eastwell? How has it changed? Have you any stories you'd be willing to share?

What about the village hall? Can you remember the original wooden building?

We'd love to hear from you

Oct 13 2014 09:22AM by Tricia Pedlar

As the remaining bit of the old hall comes down today, I remembered some of the events I remember in there and the larger wooden building that it was originally the kitchen for I think.

Fashion shows, run by a guy called Eric from Leicester who used to have a stall on Melton market, my gran Margaret Goodson, bought a lot of colourful crimpolene outfits from him- well it was the 1970's !

We also did children's performances and shows in there, organised by Wendy Stanley and Hilary ? Smith of the priest house. Very artistic affairs and if you jumped or ran up and down in the wooden floor, it seemed to make the whole building bounce ( probably was ! ) as it was taken down a bit later.

Oct 13 2014 09:29AM by itfc1949

Fascinating stuff Tricia. Let's hope we can resurrect some of these activities in the new hall...even the crimplene outfits!

Oct 13 2014 10:57AM by Geoff Cawthorn

The sprung floor, made from renewable resources and recycled materials - way ahead if its time!

Oct 31 2014 01:01PM by Ken Brammer

Having read the article in the MeltonTimes about the demolition of the old building, I could not let the occasion pass without a mention of my own memories of the previous wooden building, then called the Village Institute. My name is Kenneth Brammer and I am now 82 years old. I was evacuated from Sheffield with my older brother, to Eastwell at the beginning of W.W.II (September-1939). Our journey was by train to Melton, then by coach to Eastwell. We were led into the village institute by our accompanying teacher, Miss Hague. Several village ladies arrived and one by one we were taken to their homes, presumably until the war ended. We were well looked after by Mr & Mrs.King Hubbard (parents of Dennis) but being only a temporary billeting, due to the small cottage, we could only stay until a more permanent place could be found for us.
I attended the school next to the hall and was taught by Miss Hague; in the six months we were there, we made many friends and fell in love with the country life-style and the lovely Church which we attended with the Hubbard family. We were moved to Redmile, where we had to be separated, and I stayed with a childless couple. My brother returned to Sheffield when he was 14, but I was allowed to stay when the war ended, to continue my education at the Melton Grammar School. After leaving school, and a lot more pleading with my parents, I found myself a career with the Auctioneers and stayed at Redmile until I moved to Melton after getting married. I have visited the village many times, especially to the village fete in August, when I have displayed some of my paintings (my hobby) in the Church. I have written a book about my life as an evacuee, although it is still awaiting to be published.
May I extend my very best wishes and success to the Village Residents Association for the forthcoming venture, the artistic picture does look quite impressive.
Regards - Ken Brammer.

Apr 19 2015 10:22PM by Rynd Smith

My mother is Hilary Smith (the Priest House) who used to run the kids theatre group at the old Institute with Wendy Stanley (West End Farm).
The shows started in (I guess) 1972, at a time when there was a large group of children aged between 5 and 15 in the village. Some of the older girls (I think Carole Rowbotham (Guysgarth, now 'The Coach House') and maybe Susan Clayton or Gill Glover??) wanted to run a nativity play in the Institute and were told that they needed some parents to help them or it couldn't go ahead. Hilary and Wendy were talked into being the supervising parents and things snowballed.
Rehearsals were chaotic but somehow it all came together. My dad Laurie Smith was lecturing at Loughborough College of Art at the time and some of his students got dragooned into painting backdrops and scenery on lining paper. The most memorable line on the night was from Gary Clayton - one of three Kings - who said 'I bring you Frankenstein' and brought down the house.
The following year the demand to 'do something' strengthened and it was decided to prepare a pantomime rather than a nativity, the first of three that I recall. A girl always acted the principal boy - Gill Glover, Kate Goodson... I got typecast as dame and comedy act. Aladin was my favourite. There were scripts, but lots of the dialogue was improvised and what happened on the night was as much due to luck as judgment. There were sketches too. Susan Clayton and Gill Glover as Frank and Betty Spencer were a real hit.
Music was needed and someone came up with the idea of a kids skiffle band. The Loughborough College of Art connection emerged again: one of the lecturers there was Pete Gibson who had some connection with early '70s hit band Terry Dactyl and the Dinosaurs (Seaside Shuffle) and so the idea of a band with a washboard, tea-chest bass, zob stick, hose-pipe trombone and drum was born and a box came from Loughborough with the starter kit. My parents had two banjos and a piano accordion that became the lead instruments. The Scalford Silver Band bass drum was found somewhere and Mark Poyser learned to play from scratch despite the fact that the drum was bigger than him. And the kids somehow got fired up by my dad's East End music hall heritage... The 'Eastwell Stompers' were born and moved over time from having a couple of song slots to playing a full set: 'My old man said follow the van', 'My old man's a dustman' and 'I'm Henery the VIII I am' became popular Eastwell 'hits'.
Anyone could be in the band. There was a band box with penny whistles, mouth organs, shakers made out of Heinz bean cans filled with dried peas and wrapped in Christmas paper and tambourines. Just about the entire child population of the village did something.
Word got out. By 1976 the Eastwell panto show did the Institute and 'toured' to Eaton and Scalford as well. I remember the audience singing along and beating their feet on the wooden floor, shaking the old Institute to its foundations. A pageant had been produced for the centenary of Eaton CofE Primary School too and a vast box of flags and bunting was bought.
In 1977, celebration of the Queen's Silver Jubilee became the focus and the bunting came out again. What I think was probably the first village fete to be held on the lawn of Eastwell Hall for many years took place. A local history group was formed (led by Michael Stanley) to publish a social and natural history of Eastwell. My dad did a drawing of Guysgarth to go on the front cover. The theatre group put on another pageant - in Eastwell this time - St George and the Dragon. A massive Chinese New Year festival dragon was built from papier mache, bamboo and old curtain fabric. My memory may be playing tricks, but I think there was even a travelling Punch and Judy from Belfast College of Art. There was beer and skittles... A lot of us had our first tastes of both. It was all a bit Cider with Rosie.
But by this time the baby boom was over, most families had colour tellies, the kids were all getting older, there were no young recruits and somehow village theatre lost its lustre. By 1978 most of the younger kids in the group (including me) had started at Belvoir High School. We moved house to Chadwell. I don't remember any more shows - maybe I just wasn't there... But over a relatively short period the population of the village changed. Where there had been a pack of twenty young kids in 1972, by 1980 there were only two or three littlies left. Eaton Primary School closed. I think that was when the shows stopped.

Apr 21 2015 02:43PM by John Gass

Wonderful stuff Rynd - it really brings to life what it must have been like to be living in Eastwell in the 1970s... a lot of fun! With a new venue and an increasing number of young families in the village, we are aiming to recapture some of the fun and enjoyment from those happy times.

Apr 21 2015 04:15PM by Geoff Goodson

Great memories Rynd. I have many myself, going back to playing Skittles for a Pig in the next door yard of the then closed school, probably around 1950. For the Coronation in 1953 we all donned fancy dress, my mother was Britannia , I was politically in correct as a black and white minstrel!!
In the 50's Whist drives were very popular, and with no TV were well attended by folks from surrounding villages. I learned to play before I was 10 having to play as a Lady !! For those who might think I might have had a gender problem, Ladies did not have to shuffle or deal the cards. I became a quick learner!!
Many more memories , but my typing is not as good as my card dealing
Geoff Goodson

Jan 25 2016 08:04PM by Keith Howard

I came accross this whilst trying to locate my old friends, Laurie and Hilary Smith.
I remember Rynd as a toddler just learning to read ...!!
I wouldbe happy for Rynd to have my email address and would love to be put in touch with his parents.

Jan 27 2020 05:15PM by Catherine Palmer Gregory

I was born at The Priest House at the end of WW2. My family had been evacuated there, are there any photos or a history of the area available?. After the war my grandmother stayed in Eastwell until she moved in with my aunt.

Jan 28 2020 12:24PM by itfc1949

Hi Catherine, thanks for your comment. There are several people still here in Eastwell who remember your family - the name Granny Bates crops up. Several have said they think they have some old photos so if you can send your email address to eastwellvh@gmail.com I'll put you in contact when there is something available. Regards, John

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