Chilham Village Hall
The large hall is a 15th century tithe barn, timber framed with red brick infill and plinth and plain tile hipped roof, the entranceway, kitchen area and small hall were built in the 1930’s.
To appreciate the age of the large hall here’s a few 15th century events:
1415 Battle of Agincourt
1450 (about) Machu Picchu constructed
1455-1485 Wars of the Roses
1492 Columbus lands in the Americas
The original building would have been the castle estate barn, possibly built by the Roos family who held the castle ( not the building you see now) until 1461 when Thomas Roos was linked with the House of Lancaster during the Wars of the Roses and as a result his property was confiscated by the Crown.
Not a lot is known about the hall until 1919 when the rebuilt castle became the property of Edmund Davis, Sir Edmund, as he later became. He was a generous man and amongst other acts he added to and converted the castle barn to the layout seen today.
The crowning event of Sir Edmund and Lady Davis’s time in Chilham was the village celebration of their Golden Wedding Anniversary in January 1939, attended it seems by almost every inhabitant. Sadly, shortly afterwards Sir Edmund died.
On 20th July 1950 a conveyance was made between Somerset Struben de Chair, the owner of the castle estate including the park and the village hall
and the first trustees, Edwin George Colthup and Theodore Llewellyn Fennell.
The gated entrance to St Mary's Church has a plaque with the following text “This gate is erected by grateful patients and friends in memory of Theodore Llewellyn Fennell. M.B.,CH.B. for 37 years beloved physician in this and eight surrounding parishes and for 27 years lay reader in this church. Who died on 4th August 1959 Aged 85 years.”
Silent films were shown in the large hall, and if you cast an eye above the windows at the end of the hall and if the light is right, you may see marks in the plaster work where the projection platform used to be.
There were living quarters in the roof space of the large hall which extended from the middle of the roof and over the top of the stage. Evidence of this can still be seen, the notches in the middle roof cross beam were part of the floor support and the entry door can be seen on the outside of the gable end adjoining the small hall. It is not know if the room was in use after the small hall was built, no evidence of steps or a staircase can be seen
The ‘car port’ at the main entrance was added to allow the Lady of the castle to alight from her carriage in the dry when visiting the hall.
The small hall contained a snooker table for the use of the guests staying at the castle.
If you look at the rear wall of the large hall you will notice that it isn’t quite square with the side walls, this wasn’t a result of poor workmanship in the 15th century but almost certainly the result of a land grab by Thomas Heron (1774–94).The old road from Dane St. to Chilham was re-routed, slicing off the end of the barn. This and the addition of a 91/2 acre field at Dane St. gave him another 50 acres of land.
The area of car park and surrounding land was once an orchard of Kent Cobs, it is not known when it was grubbed up.
The hall is still held in trust for the parish and all the income is used for the upkeep this wonderful old building.
If you have any information or corrections on this history of the hall contact the lettings secretary.