In March 1896 the Harborough Advertiser reported the opening of the Turville Memorial Hall with this paragraph: “The memory of Sir Francis Turville is still green in the recollection of all who knew him, and the desire to erect some suitable memorial to him has long been cherished and encouraged.
During the past few months inhabitants of Husbands Bosworth have witnessed the realisation of their hopes by the erection of a convenient Village Hall, and the opening ceremony took place on Saturday.”
A BRIEF HISTORY
The opening took place seven years after the death of Sir Francis Fortescue Turville. His widow, Lady Liscar, who died before the completion of the project, provided the site for a building to benefit the village. Subscriptions, concerts and a grand bazaar in 1894, which was opened by Her Serene Highness Henry of Pless, raised the cost of the building, £880! The opening of the hall must have provided a grand spectacle with carriages carrying the wealthy and titled.
The opening concert was organised by Madame Valleria, a local singer of talent. “Before 7.30 a crowd began to assemble and stood patiently waiting for the opening. Then there was a crush like one would see at a London Theatre. The Hall quickly filled, the back especially being thronged and every point of vantage was seized, even to the high window ledges, which required some exercise of climbing skill to reach. It is estimated that about 250 were present.”
The Hall was run by a Board of Trustees, drawn from the village, as it has been ever since. Initially the Hall was used as a reading room and the local big houses contributed their glossy magazines. There was a billiard table, cards, dominoes and bagatelle were also played. With the help of Madame Valleria a piano was acquired and in those early days the Hall boasted a Rifle Club.
World War I caused the Hall to run into debt and it was closed in 1917. However post-war fundraising enabled re-opening and a new billiard table was purchased. Gradually the Hall became more and more used by village organisations for their meetings and functions.
During World War II the Hall disappeared as a village facility when a regiment of Lancers, who used it as their mess and recreation room, occupied it. After their departure the floor was in a state of disrepair and the billiard table had disappeared along with many chairs. The Army repaired the floor and the villagers again set about refurbishing the building for use by the community.
In 1953, Coronation Year, the Hall was extended. Toilets, a kitchen, a meeting room and extra storage space were added. The stage was moved from one end of the Hall to the other so that the Meeting Room could be used as a dressing room. By the early 1990s it was apparent that the Hall was showing its age. The 1953 kitchen and toilets needed replacing, as did much of the furniture. The heating system was inadequate and decoration was poor. Some external timbers were rotten and the front elevation of hanging tiles had suffered greatly over the years at the hands of stone-throwing children.
A group of fundraisers was established and all village organisations were asked to hold functions to contribute to the fund. With enormous efforts by everyone, a sum in excess of £30,000, including grants, was raised. Most of the aims were realised and a completely refurbished Hall was reopened for use 100 years after the original opening.
Turville Memorial Hall continues to provide a valuable facility for the village and is used for public meetings. Parish council and parish plan meetings and MP's surgeries. It is also used for pantomimes, plays, badminton, bowls, keep fit sessions, dance classes, parties, wedding receptions, etc. (What's happened to dances and whist drives?) Discos are permitted with considerable caution because of the annoyance to local residents.
Financially, as with so many similar halls, it operates on a knife-edge. It is a non-profit making charity and the balance between keeping the charges affordable and generating an excess to cope with repairs, decorations, etc is not always easy but the trustees are optimistic that the Hall will survive long into its second century.
Turville Memorial Hall Committee