History

 

The foundation stone of the Memorial Hall was laid on 20 February 1937 by Mr Whitehead, a local solicitor and Chairman of the Parish council from 1909 to 1949. It was opened two months later by the High Sheriff of Kent. It was built on land provided by the Hampson family who owned substantial tracts of land across the parishes and were significant local benefactors. They also funded the altar screen, carved in Oberammergau, which was laid in St Mary’s church, Thurnham in 1908. Sir Dennys Hampson was one of the original trustees.

The first chairman was Frederick Scott of Thornham Friars but he later resigned as a result of being criticised for infringing the blackout regulations during the early months of WW II ! He was succeeded by Mr Whitehead who served until 1946 when the Vicar Bearsted, Rev Harold Yeandle, became chairman until his untimely death in 1953. Vicars of Bearsted continued to chair the Council of Management until the mid 1970’s and during that period, meeting always began with prayers.

The Hall was not completely finished by the time it was opened. The back wall was a temporary structure and a kitchen had still to be provided. Plans were made to complete this work and the hall extended to include a stage and dressing rooms. However the outbreak of WW II and the years of post war austerity meant that a kitchen was not added until 1965. The remainder of the hall was not completed until 1974 thanks to money made available by the sale of allotments in the ownership of the Bearsted Parish Council and the indefatigable determination of Mr Martin Corps, borough and parish councillor, to see the undertaking finished.


Today the hall provides a venue for many local organisations including a nursery school, performing arts classes, the WI, a badminton club, fitness classes, church services and youth groups, the history society, art classes, U3A group, brownies, quiz nights, meetings and parties.