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The Church Hall Pulloxhill

The Hall in Church Road March 2011
The Hall in Church Road March 2011

Rev. Reginald Burman wrote a history of the Hall, variously known as The Church Hall, The Vicarage Room and the Parish Room in 1963. A copy of his history is lodged with the Pulloxhill parish archive [P13/28/1].

The hall was built in the north-west corner of the kitchen garden belonging to the Vicarage by Rev. William Cowper Johnson in 1880. The immediate cause was the increase in attendance of the Mothers' Meeting, which was then held in the Vicarage. So many attended that the vicar was forced to split the meetings over two days. He approached Lady Cowper, 7th Baroness Lucas of Crudwell, who gave him £400 to build the structure.

In a letter of 1907 Rev. Cowper Johnson wrote: "In building the Room on Glebe I was perfectly aware that the Ecclesiastical Dilapidations would fall upon the Vicar of the time being; but I took pains, with by Architect J. A. Reeve, Esquire … so to design and build the Room that the possible dilapidations should be reduced to a minimum; and I intended, for my own part as Vicar, had I not left the Parish early in 1881, to have started a small fund through a yearly parochial entertainment, or concert, which would meet any future dilapidations".

He added: "I also thought it possible that the Room would be a boon to some future Vicar who might take pupils resident in the Vicarage, and would be able to use the Room for purposes of private tuition together with all such parochial use of it was would in his judgement help forward the Church work of the Parish".

Rev. Cowper Johnson went on: "In looking back five and twenty years it is evident that various causes have arisen, through legislation and otherwise, which have created a feeling, or attitude, with regard to the management of parochial affairs in country parishes which was not known at that time: and I now feel that in allowing the Room to be called the "Parish Room" a step was taken which made it possible for a misunderstanding to arise after a time as to the object for which it was built, or the persons who might claim a voice in its management. There was no sort of misunderstanding on the points at the time when the Room was built: but I consider now that the name of Church Room, or Vicarage Room, would more correctly describe the intention of Lady Cowper in giving it and of myself in accepting it, than the name of Parish Room".

The Local Government Act 1894 created parish councils and the newly created Pulloxhill Parish Council claimed that it should have a part in managing the hall. The matter was referred to the Bishop of Ely, in whose diocese at that time Bedfordshire fell, but he refused the claim. In 1922 the hall was conveyed to Saint Albans Diocesan Trust and Board of Finance, Bedfordshire having been in Saint Albans Diocese since 1914. Day to day management was devolved to Pulloxhill Parochial Church Council.

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. The valuer visiting the Hall [DV1/C234/64] noted: "used for Sunday Schools, Mothers' Meetings, dances etc."

The plaque on The Hall March 2011
The plaque on The Hall March 2011