A Brief History of
Hanslope Village Hall

Hanslope Village Hall began life as Hanslope ‘Top School’ in the area of the Village known, due to its proximity to St James the Great, as Church End.
It was built around 1840, financed by Squire Edward Watts of Hanslope Park.

Hanslope School 1925
Squire Watts
Squire Edward Watts

Children had been previously educated in the Vicarage House, as the Parish School, created in 1721 and funded by the Lady Pierrepoint Charity.

The ‘Watts Top School’ ran until 1876, when, in 1877, the Hanslope Feoffee Charity took over the funding and management. (The Feoffee Charity still exists and still meets at the Church).

Meanwhile, in 1865, a second school was established in the same building, the ‘National School’, also funded by the Pierrepoint Foundation.

Around 1872 a new school building was constructed at Green End, (the site of the current school), known as the ‘Bottom School’, (or alternatively, the ‘Board School’).

The Hanslope Feoffee Charity funded the Top School from 1877, until it was handed over to the Hanslope School Board in 1896.

School 1893
Church End ‘Top School’ – 1893

In 1907 new asphalt was laid in the playground, at a cost of £70! At the same time a new water supply was installed, at a cost of £51 (costs today, would be £12,000).

In 1908 the Top and National Schools were merged.

At that time the building was managed by the Hanslope Sunday School Endowment.

Church End School - interior 1925
Curch End School
Church End ‘Top School’, interior and exterior, around 1925

In December 1919 there was a fire at the hall, during a Christmas party for the children. One of the teachers Miss Daisy French, age 29, playing Father Christmas, was lighting candles on the Christmas tree when her clothing caught fire. She initially survived, though died of her injuries four days later. There is a plaque in her honour at the hall.

Daisy French

In 1935 a Trust was established for the Top School building, under the Sunday School Endowment.

In 1969 the Top School pupils moved to the newly-built Hanslope Combined School in Gold Street (on the site of the Bottom School), and the Top School then ceased to exist as a separate school.

The building then became known as ‘The Church Institute’, and served as the Parish Hall.

At that point the building was in a very poor state of repair and after much negotiation and discussions The Hanslope Village Hall Trust Charity was established in 1979, which leased the building for forty years from the Hanslope Sunday School Trust.

With the aid of a grant and with a major fundraising effort the building was enlarged. The main hall was doubled in size; a toilet block was added and a modern kitchen created.

The completely refurbished building was officially opened in 1982, by actor Brian Wilde
Amongst his best known roles are Mr Barrowclough in Porridge, and ‘Foggy’ Dewhurst in Last of the Summer Wine. Photos of the hall before the refurbishment below.


The 40 year lease expired in 2019, but has been renewed.

The old kitchen
The large hall

Historic photographs – courtesy of Hanslope and District Historical Society
1970 photographs – Dr John Sorrell
Present day photographs – Mat Irvine