History of Hastoe Hall tells tale of ‘mini welfare state’

Hastoe Hall
Hastoe Hall

Towards the end of the 19th century, Lady Emma Rothschild created, in the words of one author, “a mini welfare state around Tring”, and Hastoe Village Hall was amongst the endowments she bestowed.

Built on the site of John Batchelor’s Black Horse pub and brewery and William Wright’s mill, the hall was opened in 1898 to serve as a social and recreational centre in the midst of an estate bounded by Tring, Wigginton, Buckland Common and Cholesbury.

Hastoe’s Men’s Club flourished at the hall for decades, providing billiards, skittles and other games for local farm and mill workers, and a well-stacked lending library was provided for the villagers’ edification.

With the benefit of the hall’s stage and ample space, concerts and pantomimes were regularly presented.

After the death of Lady Emma in 1935, most of the local Rothschild estate was sold at auction, but the hall was retained by Victor Rothschild with the intention of putting it in trust for the benefit of residents of Hastoe and the surrounding area.

The trust deed specifies that the hall should be used by residents of Hastoe and those living within five miles of the hall.

Over the last 75 years the hall has served as a sports centre, as a social centre for teas, fairs, dances, and as an educational facility.

Hastoe Village Hall is the largest village hall in the region of Chiltern hill top villages.

It serves a local population of around 82,000 people living and working within five miles of the hall.

It provides a home to educational, sporting, charitable and social groups from across the area, living up to its builder’s vision that it should be “used in perpetuity as a non-sectarian and non-political place of recreation, education and social intercourse for the advantage or benefit of the inhabitants of Hastoe and the surrounding district”.

The hall was built and equipped with a vision of what the local community needed more than a century ago.

The Hastoe Village Hall Trust has begun a restoration project to modernise and equip the hall for the 21st century, to ensure it is as useful to the community for the next 100 years as it has been for the last.

The work so far is just the beginning of a larger project, designed to restore a unique community asset.

Whilst the final plans have yet to be agreed, options under consideration include a cycle hire facility; provision for rest and refreshments facilities for walkers, local schools, and those on Duke of Edinburgh trips, enhanced sports facilities, provision of amateur dramatics and music and, possibly, enhanced educational facilities.

The Hastoe Village Hall Trust has much work yet to do in order to arrive at a hall fit for purpose for the next century of service to the community.

Hastoe Village Hall Trust is one of the charities nominated for the Waitrose Community Matters (green token) scheme in Berkhamsted during the month of September.

On September 24 Charlotte De Rothchild, an international soprano who has created the Family Connections concert as a celebration of the Rothschild family’s 200 year association with music, musicians and composers will be giving a concert in aid of the hall restoration in Tring Church. 

As well as performing the songs herself, by composers such as Liszt, Poulenc, Rossini, Mendelssohn, Chopin and Sir Arthur Sullivan, who were all Rothschild  family friends, Charlotte will also illustrate the concert with anecdotes of the Rothschild connection with the area, and with the featured composers.

Tickets are available from www.hastoe.org

For more information visit the website www.hastoevillagehall.co.uk

> Information provided by the Hastoe Village Hall Trust

>See this week’s Gazette for more of the latest news and pictures