Village Hall History

Apart from the church and the chapels, there was nowhere in the village until the mid-20th Cenury where meetings could be held. In the 1870s there was mention of a “Parish Room'. This was the old school house, which became Margaret Villa. The new school became its natural successor as the largest building the village, which could be cleared for social functions.

A committee was established at the end of WWII to rectify this omission. Lord Ormathwaite donated a piece of land for building a hall when his estate was sold 1945. Unfortunately, that land was conveyed to Gladestry Court by mistake The title deeds were finally sent to the committee in March 1951. The rector, the Rev Arthur Reed, was at the forefront of the efforts to build a hall. At first it seems that the intention was to build a church hall, but this later became a village hall.

Notes for an appeal letter still exist, believed to be in the Rector's handwriting. This gives an idea of the amount of social activity taking place in the village:

“We here in Gladestry have set ourselves the ambitious task of finding the necessary monies to build a Gladestry Village Hall on a site generously given by Lord Ormathwaite near Gladestry Church. At the moment, we are dependent on Gladestry School for all committee meetings, social activities and recreational gatherings.

“A typical programme for the week reads as follows:

“Monday evening – Football Club committee and also Dramatic Society rehearsal.
Tuesday evening – Dramatic Society rehearsal.
Wednesday evening – Senior Children's Guild followed by Gladestry Youth Club
Thursday evening – Dramatic Society rehearsal.
Friday – A whole round of whist drives, socials, dances, concerts, etc.
Saturday – Football match in the afternoon (changing quarters needed) followed in the evening by a cinema show

“In addition, there are a whole series of committee meetings concerning the fete, sports, show and sheep dog trials, in addition to meetings concerning the organisations already mentioned. The school is not satisfactory for any of these activities for obvious reasons. Gladestry needs a village hall and its social activities justify a hall.

“Such a hall will cost £3,000 to build. It will not be a lavish hall in any way, providing only the bare essentials. Our population is under 300, yet the village is united in its determination to raise the sum required. In five months we have raised £105 with a further £150 promised in donations. However, it is going to be a long job.

“Donations, however small, may be sent to the undersigned and each donation will be acknowledged. By so assisting us you will be helping us realise a dream and help maintain the social activities of which the village is justly proud.”

The Rector wrote many letters to try to raise funds from official sources. The Member of Parliament for Brecon and Radnor approached the Ministry of Supply concerning surplus army huts. A schedule of huts available for purchase and removal from Prisoner of War Camp Number 48 at Presteigne was obtained. None of these was valued at more than £40. But as the tender form is still in its envelope with the list, presumably it was decided not to go ahead with this idea.

In 1952 the Rector approached the National Council for Social Service in London. This organisation referred the Gladestry Hall to their Herefordshire branch, who pointed out that Gladestry was in Wales! A pre-cast concrete framework costing £344, to be erected by voluntary labour, was considered. The roof and wall infill had to be bought separately. A similar sized wooden building, again to be erected voluntarily, complete with walls and roof would have cost £800. Post-war timber shortages and an embargo on timber licences stopped this option. A complete, professionally erected building from Boulton & Paul was quoted at £2365.

Planning permission for the hall and a children's playground was applied for. It was granted in September 1953 and the rector's appeal letter was probably sent out at this time. A ‘Miss Gladestry Dance' was held in September, and this added £11-10s- 6d to the funds.

From the Times Gazette, Thursday November 14, 1963:

New village hall at Gladestry

Tributes to the persistence and determination of the villagers of Gladestry were paid by prominent speakers at Tuesday's official opening ceremony of their new village hall, which was performed by Lord Ormathwaite. The Hall, built at a cost of over £3.600 is the culmination of seventeen years work by a local committee, headed by Mr Philip Morris, its chairman, who presided at the ceremony.

Lord Ormathwaite, who was accompanied by Mrs PE Bromley-Martin, opened the main door of the hall with a key handed to him by Mr A W Davies, secretary of the Radnorshire Rural Community Council. Later, when he addressed the parishioners and their guests, he congratulated all those concerned for their work in building the hall.

Local Effort

In his address as chairman, Mr Morris said that this work had been carried out by local individuals and groups of people. Grateful as they were for grants received from various bodies, he thought it reflected great credit on local people that no less than £1,650 had been donated by public subscription. Amongst those whom he singled out for special mention were the Rev Arthur Reed, the first secretary of the hall committee, Mr J G Taft, Mr Russell Turner, Mrs M E Mason, the present secretary, and Mr Idris Lloyd, the treasurer. “But to all the committee members,” he added, “I express my personal thanks as your chairman.”

The Opening

As with everywhere else in the country, the village's social life had been affected by the spread of television. In the early sixties, a similar pattern to that of the fifties continued. The great change of the 1960s was the building of the hall. There is no record of the later stages of fund-raising, though the early stages have been documented above. The hall was finally opened in 1963 by Lord Ormathwaite.

Village Hall Activities

The hall made quite a difference to the social events. There was no longer the problem of clearing the schoolroom furniture into the shed and then trying to put it back into the right place. The school too must have felt the benefit from the decrease in disrupted Monday mornings.

Dances were still popular in the early 1960s:

“There were dances, as they were called (not discos). I remember going with mum from quite an early age — eight or nine. The ladies sold the tea and sandwiches and then sat around the side of the hall — no bars then. I can't remember a bar at a dance even in my teens in Gladestry. There was only a bar at a dinner-dance. The music was usually Don Canvin and his drums. Sometimes something was sprinkled on the floor to make it more slippery. To go to a dance with mum when I was eleven wasn’t unusual. The whist drives were another social occasion where children would often go.

The Christmas Party

The WI Christmas parties are remembered by many people. They started in 1968. There was a large amount of work beforehand, buying and wrapping presents, decorating the hall and preparing food. The Party was usually held between Christmas and the New Year and was much appreciated by the children and parents alike.

This is a memory from one of the organisers:

“The children would be very excited; as this was often the only party they would have at Christmas. Little girls in their pretty frocks, the lights on the tree, the tables arrayed with crackers, jelly and little cakes and biscuits, all this was very magical. After tea and games, the children sat down and had a sing-song, then all would be quiet to listen for the jingling bells.

“Two little ones would meet Father Christmas at the door and lead him in (Who was he?) This was a closely kept secret, as the committee chose someone different each year. The children would wait patiently for their name to be called to receive a present. As Father Christmas took his leave, all joined in singing ‘For He's a Jolly Good Fellow’.”

Dinner Dances

Dances were held through the seventies. These events were held to raise money for the Gymkhana and Show later in the year. The ladies prepared all the food for these occasions, bringing the tablecloths, cutlery, pots and pans from their homes. Whole hams were boiled and large turkeys cooked.

The day before would be spent preparing and the day after, clear up. This would be a three-course meal for around a hundred people, it was a lot of work but everyone enjoyed these events:

“The ladies, of course, spent a lot of the time in the kitchen, but we were not entirely forgotten, A special treat was when the men would bring a drink into the kitchen for the ladies, when the washing up and sorting out was done, we all had to mark our things as they would all be mixed up. Then it would be time to change into long dresses and have about one hour to enjoy the music being played by Don Canvin and his wife Betty. Some would dance and others just sit and listen to the strains of Jim Reeves singing ‘Distant Drums’.”

The Women's Institute

The Women's Institute has probably been the most regular user of the hall. The WI's Golden Jubilee was in 1974 and the members were keen to celebrate. There was a party in the hall and past members were invited. The meal and dress were in the style of 1924. 

This is how one of the members described the event:

“On the twelth of October the hall was transformed and the scone was set. The long tables laid with white tablecloths, brass candlesticks, the bread boards with large loaves of home- made bread, cold ham, beef with pickles and chutney, cheese and home-made butter, apple pies, and large fruit cakes. Jugs of cider completed the picture. Cups and saucers lay at the head of the tables; two senior members had the honour of pouring the tea and presiding at the tables.”

In the flickering candlelight the atmosphere was savoured, the years fell away as friends were reunited and the memories recalled with laughter and tears of joy. The tables were cleared away and the music of yesterday year set the feet a dancing. Then all too soon it was time for the iced cake to be cut by the founder secretary, and a toast drunk to the WI, bringing this nostalgic evening to a close, many lingering long before making their way home.


The hall has been used for many occasions to say farewell to rectors, teachers and head teachers, and other people who have played a part in the life of the village. One evening left its own special memories for one person: On a winter's night, after the Children's Christmas Party, the community gathered together to pay tribute and bid farewell to a dear lady, Mrs Addie Davies the Post Office and Shop. She was retiring and going to live in Llandrindod Wells. She was born in Gladestry and spent her life helping people. She was there to ring for the doctor, receive and deliver the telegrams of good news and sad news, show the nurse the way schen a baby was due to be born. She knew all the Village Hall The hall continued to be well used as a focal point of village activities. The Vale of Arrow football team used the hall as its changing rooms, and in the early 1980s purpose- built changing rooms with showers were added. In the early 1990s the kitchen was modernised to a more acceptable level of hygiene. In 1996 a playground was built on part of the car park and was opened by Mrs Bridget Gwatkin, a Radnor District Councillor. The car park was also extended and resurfaced. Both of these projects were financed by Radnor District Council. [Photograph: Robert Hughes] Meg Lawrence at work on a new church window. The hall is used by many organisations - the Women's Institute, the church, the football club, the Radnor Valley Young Farmers and the playgroup. The school uses the hall for its concerts and also for physical education lessons. A wide variety of activities take place there - community council meetings, discos, quizzes, bingo, whist drives, fetes, barbecues and pantomimes. It is also used for private occasions such as wedding parties, funeral teas and other special occasions. Harvest Supper This has been held in the hall for many years. Over the years, there have been many changes. It was at one time a three-course meal, with a very large amount of preparation. The type of meal has been simplified in more recent years, allowing more people to sit down and enjoy the occasion. The evening would not be complete without the auction at the end in the capable hands of George Hughes. Concerts & Social Evenings The Welsh evenings organised by the WI and the school concerts have been greatly appreciated The Cawl a Chan evenings were very successful. The Welsh flags, daffodils, hats, cakes and the singing of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, make this truly a Welsh night. Of all the events which the Hall has witnessed, the most treasured memories are of the children, through the years. Their Concerts, Musicals, Nativity Plays and Dancing have given us great joy One school play on St David's Day brought back some memories: I remember the play about some Brownies. All the Brownies used their uniforms as part of their costumes. We had a vicar in the play. Dougie (Martin Duggan) was the vicar. When Mr Prior, the rector, arrived, we took his scarf and hat. Dougie wore them and came on carrying a toy gun and saying his lines in an American way like Mr Prior spoke. Pantomimes In earlier years the village had its drama group. This disappeared many years ago, perhaps a victim of the increasing popularity of television. In the 1990s a new venture, the village pantomime appeared. A lot of work is involved in preparing for the pantomimes and the performance is of a high standard. Renovations Towards the end of the century, the original hall building was in need of major renewal work. The idea of total replacement was too costly, so the existing buildings were completely renovated. The old kitchen was demolished and a new kitchen and function room were added. The hall now has insulation, central heating and double glazing. It has been rewired and redecorated. The steel supports of the roof have been enclosed. The refurbishment cost £160,000, forty times the cost of the original hall. The vie الم [Photograph: Robert Hughes) majority of this money came from the National Lottery The re-opening of the hall took place in the year 2000. Although this is outside the time The renovated and extended village hall period of this book, in order to complete the story of the hall, it is included: The hall was officially re-opened by Mr George Hughes, who was one of the original trustees He was assisted in cutting the ribbon by Persis Love, the youngest five-year old from Gladestry School. There were refreshments prepared by the WI. Millennium mugs were handed out to the children. A display of photographs of the village created much interest. During the evening a aphs of th presentation was made to Mr Viv Lloyd by the hall committee in appreciation for the amount of work he had put into the renovation project. The evening was rounded off by Mr Norman Evans singing a number of solos. He had performed a solo when the hall was originally opened. The Sheep Dog Trials These have continued from 1934 up to the end of the century, and still prove a popular attraction. With the present interest they seem likely to continue for many years to come. Fifty years of the Sheep Dog Trials were celebrated in the Village Hall with a Dinner and Social evening There are several excellent dog handlers in the parish, who have bred and trained working dogs. Two handlers in particular have put Gladestry on the map, when appearing on television The Sheep Dog Trials The Gladestry Sheep Dog Trials started in 1934, and originally were a few farmers having fun. The first meeting to discuss the trials was held by the horse block in the yard ar Gladestry Court and the people present were sat on the granary steps at Gladestry Court. The officials chosen were Wilfred Hughes (Stonehouse), secretary, John Alman, treasurer, and Atterbury Williams the Wern, chairman. There was a committee of the local people: Jim Drew The Court, Jim Watts Gwerndyfnant, Stanley Croose Hill Farm. James Ingram Llanerchyfrain, John Jones The Cross, Arthur Lloyd Wainwen, William Jones Llanyfelin, Ivor Mills The Pitch, Edgar Wall Hengoed, Thomas Sheen Llanhowell. Dr Edwards of Huntington Court was invited to be the president. There have only been two secretaries all the years, Mr Wilfred Hughes and his son Mr George Hughes. It has grown into a two-day event and continues to flourish. By the end of the century there is a strong committee of local members and many willing helpers to erect the course and run the trials. Over the years committee members have changed, with places often filled by a younger family member. The first sheep dog trials were held in the summer of 1934, at Gladestry Court in the top of the Wilfred Hughes, Stone House (Mrs II Edwards) Green Piece. In the early days for the first four years or so there were just two classes, South Wales Style and a Local Class. Then later on, after the war years, a third class was added. The National Rules came in. This is where the dog has to drive sheep around the course. In the early days competitions were run for many years at Gladestry Court. Later the trials moved to The Court of Gladestry where they have also been for many years, and continue to run there. In 1937 a Mr Pritchard from Pwllheli travelled to Gladestry Dog Trials. He, with other competitors, had hired a Buick Car to make the long journey some 130 miles, quite something in those days. He was awarded first prize in the open class; he also gave a demonstration with his two dogs Hemp and White. This was a great honour for Gladestry. The trials were followed by tea in the schoolroom, followed by a social gathering. A number of people have contributed this section. Aubrey Hughes describes how he started: Father was always interested. I used to go and watch. Then Mervyn Williams helped me a lot and it just stemmed from there. It's got very big now. A lot of people are at it that aren't farmers or William Jones, Llanyfelin and Scot 5 Education The Mother & Toddler Group started in the village hall in 1982, with Liz Griffiths as the supervisor: Playgroup Painting and the sand-pit were firm favourites, although I believe that the mums had difficulty in getting their offspring clean on returning home. Before that, children had gone to Kington. One person remembers the playgroup at the old Methodist Church in Kington: Village Hall for Gladestry for the first time in its history, destry, the small village in the hilly Belsh border near Kington, will soon e its very own village hall. At the beginning of last week, work wned on the foundations of the hall. which will be large enough to commodate 120 seats. I am told by Mr Idris Lloyd, treasurer of Gladestry Village Hall Committee, that it is hoped that the building will be completed in about three months' time. Lloyd told me that the cost of the building will be about £3,000. Collecting this amount started in armest four years ago, eleven years ther ground for the hall opposite the allage church had been given. Then, the committee had about £250 in hand Another £500 has still to be collected, but Mr Lloyd said he hoped would soon be raised by whist drives and dances, ready for when the building is finished. Though we are very grateful for having the school to use, we will be very much happier when we can use a building we can definitely call our own," said Mr Lloyd. is an effort to raise some of the tstanding money, Mr Lloyd will thornly be holding a livestock sale. armers in the Gladestry area have en very helpful already," he said and I am sure they will support this Penture Copy of a newspaper cutting [Origin unknown]