The new Village Hall, on the site occupied by the previous hall, was opened on the 13th February 1999. After two open village meetings it was decided by the majority present to spend any funds raised on a new hall rather than the old one, which was in need of many repairs.
The new building, designed by George Batterham of Batterham Matthews Designs, Marshfield, Chippenham, has two interconnecting halls which can be used independently or together, providing for a maximum of 168 standing or 84 seated. At the rear there are two enclosed areas for play or barbecues etc. accessed by double doors and at the front a parking area with steps and a ramp for the disabled. Inside, the centrally positioned kitchen and reception area, which is very welcoming, has three toilets and a rest area leading off. The overall effect is one of simplicity and space. Natural wood has been used to good effect, including the re-use of the old beams from the former hall, and the colour scheme of daffodil yellow and pale green completes the picture. The original estimate of the cost was £91000, but the final bill came to £160000, the monies having been raised by grants, fundraising, donations etc.
The Old Hall 1971 - 1998
The previous village hall had originally been the village school, dating from 1840, a building given to the village in 1969 by Richard Gerard 4th Viscount Long, the school having closed in 1967.
In April 1969 the scheme to convert the old school to a hall was expected to cost £4500. Plans for the conversion were passed by Wiltshire County Council in 1970, but the grants applied for would not be available until 1971.
After grants from the Community Council and the Department of Education the village was left with the task of raising £1,125. The Village Hut Committee was able to help out to the tune of £225, leaving £900 to be raised by Rev. H.T.Yeomans' Plans and Publicity Committee. This committee planned to raise £900 during 1969 by various means including selling bricks for £1 each. In 1970 the village hosted the semi-finals of the British Motor-Cycling Grass Track Championship; held a grand Fete, Show and Gymkhana, sponsored walks and rides and numerous Coffee Mornings, bringing the total raised to over £1900. But building costs had risen in the meantime and expected grants were reduced from 75% to 65% leaving the village £700 short of the money needed.
Rather than ask the village to raise yet more money it was decided to revise the plans. Instead of adding a new kitchen, a kitchen would be fitted into part of the small room; the false ceiling in the main hall would be omitted and the carpark would be patched rather than re-surfaced. Work on the conversion to a village hall started on September 6th 1971 and the new hall was opened on Friday 17 December 1971 by Lord Long and Rev. H.T. Yeomans. The opening ceremony was followed by a social evening with music.
The final AGM of the Hut Committee and the first AGM of the new Village Hall Committee were held consecutively on Monday 27th March 1972 in the new hall. The composition of new Village Hall Committee would consist of 6 representatives nominated by the Parish Council; the Parochial Church Council; the Trustees of the Baptist Chapel; the Women's Institute; the Youth Club and the Youth Football Club. The building, which had served the village for 26 years as the hall, was demolished in 1998.
The Chitterne Hut once stood in Bidden Lane, between Well Cottage and White Hart House where a beech hedge hides part of the garden of Well Cottage today. The 'Hut' as it was known, was a wooden, ex W.D. Army Stores hut from the first World War and it was paid for by public subscription after a Parish meeting decided that the current facilities were not convenient for village events.
A committee was formed to oversee the purchase and erection and, when the hut became available, it was dismantled and re-erected by Polden and Feltham, local builders, in 1920 - 21. It was used for meetings, whist drives, dances and parties for children and the elderly. During the second World War army personnel used it again as soldiers stationed nearby joined the revelry on Saturday nights.
The Hut was used by the village for 50 years. The final Annual General Meeting of the Village
Hut Committee was held in the new Village Hall on Monday 27th March 1972.
The Penny Peading Room
Impression of the Penny Reading Room in 1891
The inconvenient facilities that preceded the Hut were the Village School and the Penny Reading Room. The Penny Reading Room, in Back Lane on the left behind The Poplars, was once temporarily consecrated for weddings etc. until the church was finished. Now only part of the old building remains, the gable end in Back Lane. The original thatch on the roof and wall have long since disappeared.