Wiveliscombe Town Hall was built in 1841 for Alexander Baring, First Lord Ashburton, landlord of the Wiveliscombe and Fitzhead Estate, one time MP for Taunton and founder of the London banking house, Baring Brothers & Co. The Wiveliscombe Town Hall Trust aims to restore the Hall and re-instate it as an arts venue for the people of Wiveliscombe and the 10 Parishes. The Trust was formed in 2006 to preserve the building and bring the upper floor back into active use. If you would like to support the trust, then please click on the link below, to find out ‘What you can do’
The building was completed in 1842 and was initially known as the Assembly Rooms. At the front of the Assembly Rooms was a large portico through which, in an area now occupied by the Co-op, West Country Guns and the Library, lay The Shambles; an extensive open market that housed stalls selling fish, meat and other produce. To the rear was a pig market together with stables and a coaching house.
After 52 years at the heart of Wiveliscombe’s society and commerce the building was sold by Baring’s heirs following poor investments which lead to the family bank being rescued by the Bank of England. At some point the portico was removed and access route through the Lion Hotel was lost, necessitating the new access from The Square.
The upper floor formed the town’s Assembly Hall which was reached by a grand oak staircase rising from the Lion Hotel’s courtyard. The Halls was used for over 100 years for performances, concerts, balls, cinema, reading rooms and other public events and activities. Meanwhile, there was a large balcony over the portico from which newly elected MPs made their electoral address to their constituents.
In 1929 the building was bought by the Cooperative Society with the last public use of the Assembly Hall taking place in 1958, since when it has lain empty and unused. The whole building (ground and first floors) was listed in 1984. The clock is owned by the Parish Council which retains the right to enter the building to keep it wound.
A report into the future use of the building was completed by architects in early 2008 with a recommendation that the building should be used as an arts, media, cultural and heritage venue. Activities might include:
- Live Music
- Arts and crafts exhibitions & fairs
- Dances and dance performance
- Private functions
- Heritage education
We are extremely keen to bring as much art and culture into our region because we believe there is a real thirst for such events. As part of the building’s restoration, the report recommends that the portico should be reinstated and a new access provided from The Square. A new extension built to the rear has recently been completed by the Co-op and the Trust are investigating using this opportunity to provide the Hall with a roof terrace bar. All works will be completed to a high environmental specification.
Since the report was completed the Trust has successfully managed to acquire a long term lease from the Co-op. The cost of restoration and conversion of the listed building are estimated upwards of £300,000, presenting a significant fundraising challenge for the Trust. An additional challenge will be to ensure that the eventual uses of the Hall are able to cover the building’s running costs. The Trustees are extremely passionate and optimistic that this challenge can be met, not least with the support of the local community. The Town Hall will, once again, welcome the public through its doors and take its rightful place at the heart of the Wiveliscombe and 10 Parishes cultural and community life. The Trustees are Emma Bettridge, Dave Lusk, Bev Shaw, Kate Hellings-Langdon, David Patterson, Chris Perry, Steve Jones and Edmund Butler. All the Trustees live or work in the Ten Parishes and bring a wide range of relevant expertise and experience to the Trust.
Latest News and Events
‘GLORIATOR’ RAISED £1,500!
What a fantastic evening. The cleverly written and performed ‘Gloriator’ illustrated just the sort of event the Town Hall would like to host on a regular basis. With cracking comedy theatre, good food, a local bar and of course a great audience it was a huge success, with people asking when’s the next one!?
We’d like to say a huge thank you to Spitz & Co as the kindly donated their time free of charge and all proceeds will go to the Town Hall Fundraising campaign.
Feedback was so positive and encouraging that we intend to arrange something similar in the autumn.
HAVE YOUR SAY!
Residents of the 10 Parishes and visitors alike had the opportunity to voice their thoughts on the potential uses for the site at the annual Wivey Street Fair 2016 by using stickers and post-its at the Trust’s fund-raising stall. Thoughts included a theatre, a cinema and a venue for live music, a thirst was evident for an arts and culture venue for the town.
The Trust are looking for more feedback from the community, so you are invited to take part in the consultation process by completing a short survey www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MK9C33B
WINDOW SPONSORSHIP – BUY A PIECE OF WIVEY HISTORY
The Wiveliscombe Town Hall Trust are delighted to have now raised over £5,000 from their window pane initiative and are well on the way to commissioning new window frames for the Town Hall.
Latest sponsors include Day Lewis Pharmacy, Porter Dodson Solicitors, Cotleigh, Exmoor and Black Bear Breweries and the Jim Laker Fund. We’d like to say a big thank you to all our sponsors and there is still an opportunity to buy a pane in support of the project and to have your name recorded for posterity under the window you have funded. Panes start from as little as £25.
If you too would like to get a massive thank you and a feeling of achievement by sponsoring a window do get in touch.
TOWN HALL CLOCK – TICK TOCK!
Big thanks to Chris Perry who has volunteered to wind the Town Hall clock each week. The clock is the responsibility of the Town Council who have agreed to donate £100 per year to the Town Hall for keeping it wound. We’re very grateful to Chris for taking this task on as it’s great to look up and see it working again.
Many thanks also to Tabbie Shaw for the tasty donation of £15 from her cupcake sale too – every penny helps!
£1,500 FROM BRENDON ENERGY’S COMMUNITY FUND
The Trustees were delighted to be presented with a cheque in November 2016 for £1,500 towards the Town Hall refurbishment from Richard Brunning on behalf of Brendon Energy. This donation is enough to completely refurbish one of the windows and recognises the importance of regaining the use of this iconic building for the benefit of the residents of Wiveliscombe and surrounding areas.
FURTHER FUNDING SECURED FROM ARCHITECTURAL HERITAGE FUND
The Wiveliscombe Town Hall Trust are delighted to have secured a further £12,500 from the Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) which will see the Town Hall project moving forward towards planning and then submitting large scale capital funding bids. In order to secure the AHF funding the Trust needs to match the amount by December of this year. The AHF funding will cover 50% of the costs required to have the drawings and surveys in place for the project to go through planning, as well as the business planning work needed to secure the capital funding for the total refurbishment of the Town Hall, which is estimated to be in excess of £300K.
Chair John Bone states, ‘This money from AHF is validation for all the hard work and determination shown by the Trust; it has been a lengthy process to secure the lease but things are now really moving on. Previously AHF funded our project viability work, which has allowed us to work on business planning and community consultation and this continued support for the next stage of project development work from AHF is very welcome!
LOCAL ILLUSTRATOR COMMISSIONED
The Trust approached local illustrator Marc Vyvyan-Jones https://marc-vyvyanjones.squarespace.com/ to produce a piece of artwork to use in the promotion of the Town Hall. Marc has produced a magical piece which has really bought the building to life. It’s full of detail, fun and colour, with golden light emanating from the windows and doors, with a wide range of arts raising the roof!
So far we’ve used the artwork to produce flyers, but postcards and limited edition prints are available on request.
OTHER FUNDRAISING IDEAS . . .
The Trust continues with more direct funding drives from within the community. The trust are aiming to hold regular fund raising events throughout the year and started with a coffee morning during February in The Bear, raising over £80. On the same day the primary school held a ‘non-uniform day‘ raising a further £145. Other fundraising ideas include, a guided walk around Wivey, supper with a speaker, pop-up meals, a valuation day, auction of promises etc. If you have any suggestions or time to give towards fundraising or would just like to be kept up to date with events then please contact us and become a ‘Friend of Wivey Town Hall Trust’.
£1,900 FROM THE CO-OP LOCAL COMMUNITY FUND!
We raised an amazing figure of just over £1,900 from the Co-op Local Community Fund and we’d like to say a HUGH thank you to all those people who signed up to support us.
SPONSORED SW COASTAL WALK
During October 2017 Town Hall trustee Steve Jones completed a 20 mile walk along the coastal footpath from Minehead to Lynton with his dog, son and his girlfriend in a very speedy 7 hours 45 minutes! The walk walk was tough with two ascents and descents of over 1000 feet and despite a grey day and very sore knees they raised just over £200. A great and much appreciated effort.
XMAS CAROLS IN THE TOWN HALL
We opened the Town Hall doors on Saturday the 16th December for carols, ukulele, mulled cider and mince pies. Thanks to trustee Chris Perry the room looked so beautiful with an enormous tree, full sized father christmas and lots of sparkly lights. Wivey’s Community Choir and Ukulele group kindly donated their time and a great hour was had singing christmas songs and soaking up the atmosphere.
It was a great opportunity to showcase the newly restored window and all who came said how festive it was and how much they enjoyed it, we raised a further £150.
What You Can Do
We need plenty of local support with our fundraising programme.
You can help by:
Taking part in our Survey so we can ensure we are making the building work for all the community.
Becoming a Friend of the Wiveliscombe Town Hall Trust. You could either fill in the form to the right, fill in one of the Town Hall Postcards and return it to the address opposite, or call in and leave your details at Wiveliscombe House.
Tell everyone you can about this great project and follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
Making a Donation. Whether you’re a company, trust or individual looking to make a small personal contribution, your support will help open up this fantastic space to many more people. Please use the MyDonate link below, it is greatly appreciated.
Wiveliscombe Town Hall Trust
c/o Wiveliscombe House
Charity Number 1113317
Chair Emma Bettridge
Vice Chair Dave Lusk
Treasurer Bev Shaw
Secretary Linda Featherstone
I would like to become a Friend of Wiveliscombe Town Hall Trust
Your details will only be used for the purposes of the Trust and will not be shared with any other organisation.