Alciston and Selmeston Village Hall
The idea of a village hall to encourage ‘the social and intellectual life’ of the two villages was first raised by The Reverend J. T. Bullock, who was vicar of Selmeston with Alciston from 1930 to 1938.
A local benefactor, Lilian Mary Clapham of Alciston, together with Dean Virginia Gildersleeve, a friend of Mrs Carnegie (widow of the founder of the Carnegie Trust in New York) along with Professor Caroline Spurgeon (living at Old Postman’s Cottage, Alciston), started the fundraising ball rolling in May 1933. Between them they persuaded the Carnegie Trust to donate to the fund, and residents of both parishes were also levied three pence a week as a contribution to this fund.
A committee was formed, with Hugh Stacey (a farmer of Alciston Court) becoming the driving force behind the various fundraising events and activities. One of the other committee members, Mr A. H. Mockford, teamed up with Hugh Stacey, and between them they drew up plans and submitted various ideas to the committee for the future use of the hall. Within two years, enough money had been raised to build the hall, on the field adjacent to the cricket pitch, deliberately positioned on the boundary of both parishes. Mrs Hugh Stacey was elected to lay the foundation stone.
On Saturday July 27, 1935, the Alciston and Selmeston village hall was opened with an address by John Maynard Keynes and, such was the crowd, that the opening ceremony had to be relayed by loudspeaker to a field full of people unable to get inside.
The hall was put to good use in the remaining peaceful four years before World War Two, when it then became the focal point for residents to gather in order to keep up morale and exchange news and foodstuffs etc., as well as being a venue for the odd tea dances etc. The 20th (South Downs) Sussex Battalion Home Guard would make full use of the hall facilities for meeting and training. Evacuated children were also taken to the hall to await collection, after arriving at Berwick Station by train from London.
In January 1954, a brass plaque was set on the wall, just to the left of the entrance door of the hall (since repositioned on the right), in recognition of the work undertaken by Hugh Stacey in getting the hall erected. It was dedicated by the vicar, the Reverend A. E. Harris, and unveiled by Mrs Hugh Stacey. During the ceremony Mr A. H. Mockford gave a short speech, in which he stated that ‘due to Mr Stacey’s efforts, Alciston and Selmeston had one of the finest village halls in Sussex at that time’.
The plaque is inscribed:
This tablet commemorates the selfless work of Hugh Stacey, late of Alciston Court, whose inspiration and help did so much to create this Village Hall.
It is a mark of respect and affection from the many who continue to enjoy the fruits of his labour
Mrs Hugh Stacey unveils plaque in village hall with Mr A.H. Mockford and the Reverend A.E. Harris, in 1954
In 1999 the hall was extended with grants, and continues to be improved and maintained by a voluntary committee. Parking near to the hall remains a problem and we ask visitors to consider residents of nearby houses, and not to park on the verges, which are being destroyed the length of The Street, due to careless driving.