The Building of Orpen Hall

The Building of Orpen Hall from Issue 1 of the Village Bulletin

Orpen Hall as depicted in Issue 1 of the Village Bulletin

Since the end of the first World War the villagers of West Bergholt had used the ex-army hut on the Green as their village hall, but at 3 o’clock on December 1st 1938 aImost the entire village population assembled to see Sir. Gurney Benham and Mr T Lorkin Daniell officially open the Orpen Memorial Hall.

In his will in 1922 Mr. Orpen had directed that on his wife’s death the residue of his estate should be used to build a hall for the village; now fifteen years later the Parish Council received the sum £4,328, a very generous amount in 1937.

By April 1938 land had been purchased for £275 and plans drawn up for a joint Social Club and Dance Hall. In June of that year five tenders had been received, the lowest being that of Messrs. Chambers for £3,139 and building commenced that same month.  Five months later the complete down to the cycle shed. Chairs, curtains, crockery, buckets and brooms and a piano costing £10 had been purchased. Few villages had a hall equal to this; however Mr. Orpen had expressed his intention that the Hall should be self-supporting, no money being left for its upkeep.

A further four acres around the Hall was bought by Mr. Thomas Lorkin Daniell and donated to the village to be let by the Parish Council for organised games.

Unfortunately the Hall had very little use before the onset of World War Two and was occupied by the military for the next few years.

Moving on to 1979

Now forty years, old, the Hall has been re-wired and the roof insulated. New toilets have been added at a cost slightly higher than that of the original building! Money raised by the Orpen Hall Fund Raisers was used to modernise the kitchen and an emergency lighting system installed. This year a small group of volunteers worked hard to re-decorate the interior.

Today the Hall is used by many village organisations and Mr. Orpen’s name is perpetuated by the excellent productions of the “Orpen Players“. Whilst extensions and alterations are needed to keep pace with the growth of the village Mr. Orpen would doubtless be pleased if he could see his Hall in use today.

Skip to content