Remembering What it Stands For
George Cole was the new Curate in charge of St. Mary’s Church from 1919, and one of his first tasks was to plan a suitable memorial to the men of Burgh Heath who lost their lives in the Great War. The residents of Burgh Heath, unlike those in Banstead, opted not for a stone memorial but for a village hall. Hence the War Memorial Hall was built opposite the village green.
The Hall was built on land donated by the Colman family (of Colman’s Mustard fame), and the building was paid for with money raised by local subscriptions, to stand as a permanent memorial to the men, and one woman, from the village who lost their lives in the First World War. Unfortunately, no records exist of the many planning meetings and fund raising events that must have been held to bring the Hall into being. But it must have been a mammoth task considering that the war ended in November 1918 and the Hall was opened less than three years later.
The opening ceremony was held on Saturday 8 October 1921, and the memorial board was unveiled by Mrs Colman herself. The accounts for that year, which do still exist, together with those for every year since, show that the sum of £4 1s. 8d. was taken on the opening night.
Originally, a peppercorn rent was agreed for the land, but on 23 November 1921 an indenture was made between Nigel Claudian Dalziel Colman and the Trustees of the Hall, stating that ‘The Trustees shall hold the said premises hereinafter conveyed upon trust to permit the same to be appropriated and used in perpetuity under the name of the ‘Burgh Heath War Memorial Hall’ for the use of the artisan and labouring classes resident in Burgh Heath’, thereby securing the Hall’s future for generations to come.
In its first eight months the Hall made a healthy profit of £40-5s-0d, with income mainly from hire fees, although no details are given about what type of activity the hall was used for. Heating (coal and coke) and lighting (gas lamps) were the main items of expenditure. Not much has changed in that respect! The first mention of an electricity bill is not made until 1936.
The Hall became the centre of village life in the 1920s and 1930s. Socials and fund raising events were popular and well supported, and contributed in no small way to the Hall’s finances, and the accounts show that a profit was made every year, even if at times it was only a few pounds. Many of the people enjoying the facilities at the ‘new village hall’ in those early years would have known and loved the men, and one woman, whose names are inscribed on the 1914-1918 memorial board. The outbreak of World War II in 1939 would see huge changes for the Hall, but that is another story.
The men and women recorded on the plaque have been researched by the Banstead History Research Group. Read a pdf () copy of the additional information they have found. If you can help with more information, photographs or other material relating to any of the people named on the memorial please contact us using the form below.