History of the Hall


Halstead & Colne Valley Gazette – Friday 16th June 1922

Colne Engaine Village Hall – Formally Opened

In memory of her father the late Mr George Courtauld, of Cut Hedge, Halstead, Miss K M Courtauld, C.C., has provided a splendid Village Hall for the use of the inhabitants of Colne Engaine, this being a worthy addition to the many acts of public munificence performed by members of the Courtauld family in the locality during recent years.  The hall, which is a substantial building, is erected in the centre of the village, between the parish church and the elementary school, is of red facings with handsome oak trussed roof, covered with local plain tiles, the woodwork being mostly of oak.  The dimensions of the main hall are 42 feet 6 inches by 21 feet, which includes a platform raised 2 feet 3 inches, and 8 feet 6 inches wide.  The interior of the building is fitted up in a most up-to-date style.  There are eight large windows, which are built in recesses, so that seats can be placed therein, and around the hall is a panelled oak dado.  There are two large cupboards at the back of the hall, and underneath the stage there is ample room for the storage of furniture.  Facilities are provided for heating the hall by means of a large stove built of plain red brick and Tudor pointed, three radiators being placed in different parts of the building.  The stage has been so arranged that it can be partitioned off from the main hall, and used as a reading room.  The wood used for the Hall is mostly of oak, some of which was taken from the old White’s mill which stood many years a little lower down the hill.  At the rear of the building a six-roomed caretaker’s cottage has been erected, the parlour of which can be used as a Green room when theatrical performances are held, and the scullery will always be available for serving refreshments.  The building is illuminated by electric light, the wiring and fitting up being done by Mr C C Pudney, and the current supplied from the installation of Messrs Pudney and Sons, builders and contractors.  This local firm of builders were the contractors for the new Hall, Mr Duncan Clark, of Colchester, being the architect.



Miss K M Courtauld

Miss K M Courtauld

Part of the field adjoining the Hall has been purchased by the parishioners of the village for use as a recreation ground, in memory of the local men who fell during the war.  The field, which covers an area of nearly 2½ acres was purchased for £55.  It will be laid out for football, cricket, quoits and tennis and massive oak gates estimated to cost about £50, will shortly be erected at the entrance and suitably inscribed to the memory of the fallen.


In the presence of a large company of ladies and gentlemen the hall was formally opened on Saturday afternoon.  Miss Courtauld presided, being supported on the platform by the Rev R B Hill, Rector of the Parish, Mr T F Sewell, Chairman of the Parish Council, Miss Dora Christy (Chelmsford), Secretary of the Essex Federation of Women’s Institutes; Mr T F Miller, JP, of Great Maplestead; and Mr J B Gill.  Amongst those also present were Mr S A Courtauld, JP, (The Howe, Halstead), Mr and Mrs W J Courtauld (Pennypot, Halstead), Miss M R Courtauld, Miss Dorothy Courtauld, the Misses Sparrow (Sible Hedingham), Mrs R M Courtauld, Mrs W E Grimston (Colne Place), Miss Gladstone, Mr J D Botterell (Colne Park), Mrs and Miss Tabor (Bocking), Mrs H B Dickinson and Dr Singh (Pebmarsh), Mr Arthur Peake, Mrs E A G Marriott (Clees Hall), Miss Miller (Great Maplestead), Mrs Hill, Miss Sewell, Mrs Stringer, Mrs Palmer, Mr C H Marsh, Mrs Godlee, Mr T Ray, Mr and Mrs H W Pudney, Mr C C Pudney, the Misses Pudney, Mr and Mrs H E Smith, Mr Martin, Mrs W North, Mr J Pudney, Mr W Coe, Miss Tullock, Mr and Mrs F Metson, and a large number of parishioners.

In declaring the Hall open for the use of the inhabitants of Colne Engaine, Miss Courtauld said; I should like to say a few words as to my reasons for building the Hall.  When the peace celebrations were held in July 1919, I was away from home in Scotland, but I had letters telling me that at a meeting of the inhabitants of the parish it had been decided to try and collect funds for putting up a club room in memory of the Colne Engaine men who had fallen in the war.  I was asked to subscribe and promised a donation towards that object.  Later, after the death of my father (Mr George Courtauld of Cut Hedge, Halstead) I thought I would like to build the room myself in his memory.  Most of you know how much he always interested himself in the welfare and happiness of those amongst whom he lived, and I felt there could be no more fitting tribute to his memory, or one of which he himself would have more warmly approved.

Mr Courtauld

Mr Courtauld

After I had announced to those who were collecting money for the war memorial of my decision they decided to devote their funds to the purchase and laying out of a recreation ground and to erect a gateway at its entrance in memory of the men who had fallen..  As you are aware a tablet was placed in the Church bearing the names of these men.  There it is safe from damage by weather, and will, we believe, last as long as our old Church stands.  It seems fitting to me that the ground should not only be a memorial to those who have given their lives for their country, but should also add pleasure to the lives of those who were fortunate enough to return to take their places at home.  It seems quite appropriate to me that the two should be combined.  I have plans of the gateway it is proposed to erect at the entrance to the Recreation Ground and it will be laid out and fenced in with the Hall.  The gates to be erected in memory of the fallen will cost about £50 and a certain amount of money has been collected for it and I hope more will be forthcoming to enable that project to be carried out.  I wish the Hall to be as far as possible a centre of interest and benefit to the whole village, men and women alike.  I hope that the Men’s Club will be held here, also the Women’s Institute, and that lectures and entertainments will be held therein for the good of all the village.  Perhaps it could also be utilised for a Drill Hall for the Boy Scouts and possibly for a troope of Girl Guides.  (Applause)  Eventually I hope it will be managed by the village for the village without help or interference from me, but at first there will be a good deal of arrangement and preliminary work to get through and I propose to appoint the first committee to serve for one year and preside over the meetings myself.  The committee I propose to appoint is the Parish Council (including the Chairman), which body is representative of all classes in the village, the Rector, the Rev R B Hill, Mr Miller, of Elms Hall, who had kindly consented to act as treasurer, and Mr William Coe, secretary.  To represent the women of the parish,as it is hoped to start a Women’s Institute, I have asked Mrs Stringer and Miss Sewell to join the committee.  That will be the main committee but there will be various sub committees for the Workmen’s Club, Women’s Institute, etc, which those bodies would elect themselves.  Miss Courtauld then proceeded to read the conditions under which the hall would be held by the parishioners.  These showed that it was granted on a quarterly tenancy at an annual rent of a peppercorn if demanded, the tenants to agree to pay the rent and rates; to keep glazing and interior parts in good repair; not to assign, underlet or part with the possession of the premises or any part thereof without the consent in writing of the landlord; to permit the landlord or her agent at any reasonable hour to enter for the purpose of viewing the condition of same; to employ a caretaker to reside in cottage adjoining; that no intoxicating liquor be sold or consumed on any part of the premises; not to use or permit the premises to be used as a workshop of any kind, or for any trade or business except for home handicrafts and not to let or use the premises for the purposes of private profit; not to allow betting or gambling or the use of obscene language nor any entertainment which, in the opinion of the landlord is of a demoralising character; not to use the premises as a political club room nor for political propaganda or meetings.  With regard to the condition as to the sale of intoxicating liquor, Miss Courtauld said it was not included because she objected to a man having his glass of beer, but because she did not consider it a necessity for him to always have a glass of beer standing beside him and after all the Bells public house was not very far off and if anyone wanted a drink they could soon get it.  (Laughter and applause).

Miss Courtauld then asked Mr Miller to give those present some of his experiences in the management of Workmen’s Clubs.


Mr Miller said he must begin by expressing his pleasure at being invited over from Great Maplestead to help Colne Engaine to star their new Institute.  He thought he could quite understand the feelings of Queen Sheba when she visited King Solomon and saw the splendour surrounding him, and his (Mr Miller’s) feelings that afternoon were in the same direction.  At Great Maplestead they had had difficulties to contend with and could not make it run easily at first.  They had a Council of nine elected partly by the Men’s Club, Women’s Institute and Parish Council, and then various sub-committees were elected for the club and institute.  But at Colne Engaine it would be a bigger thing altogether.  That building was going to be a kind of Town Hall, the centre of the social activities of the village, and also for carrying on the local government of the village.  They must have a management committee and in view of the difficulties that would have to be surmounted he could quite understand Miss Courtauld appointing the first committee, but after the first year he was democratic enough to think that the ruling committee would be elected by the parishioners themselves.  They must not, however, be disappointed if things did not work very well at first.  A year ago purchased a motor car which after a twelve-months use was being tuned up so to speak and was working better than when it was new.  The same would apply with their Village Hall, they would have to get tuned up to circumstances.  He had for forty years had to do with Men’s Clubs, and if ever they got into a muddle he would be delighted to come and give them the benefit of his experience.  (Applause).  In conclusion he would like to congratulate them most heartily.  It was a red-letter day for the village.  He had always advocated that every village should have an Institute and a village green, and that day the inhabitants of Colne Engaine had attained both.  (Applause).


Miss Christy looked upon it as a great privilege to be asked to attend that opening, and in the name of the Essex Federation of Women’s Institutes she thanked them most heartily that at the first meeting held in the Hall the idea of the formation of a branch of the Women’s Institute was mentioned.  She proceeded to enumerate the ideals of the movement she represented.  It was essentially for the country villages to help the fuller development of the country woman.  To help them appreciate the beauty of country life, and to help make them better citizens of the Empire.  They also had for their object the betterment of home life.  The country homes were the homes that would produce the future citizens of the country and surely there could be no greater work than in helping to improve the conditions of these.  The Women’s Institute would teach them to use both their fingers and brains.  When they met together from time to time at the Institute meetings it helped them to realise the good in their neighbours in such a way as they had never done before.


It would help them to get rid of that dullness and suspicion so prevalent in Essex women, which was, perhaps, due to the fact that ever since early days the Eastern counties, and particularly the Essex coast, had been subject to invasion.  Their forefathers encountered invading foreigners and that fact accounted for them being backward in making friends and receiving new comers with open arms.  The Institute would help them to shake off that feeling and they would immediately become very much greater friends with their neighbours and begin to appreciate the many qualities others had which they did not possess themselves, and to realise there was a great deal of good in all.  They wanted to install the spirit of co-operation and get away from the class barriers that made village life a burden.


Mr Gill, who had taken the place of Mr Wilson, the Principal of the East Anglian Institute of Agriculture, spoke of what that Institute could do to help the village in the way of lectures on various agricultural subjects, including horticulture, beekeeping, poultry farming, pigs, dairy work, rabbit keeping etc.  He hoped that with such a wonderful Hall the various agricultural interests would co-operate together for the advancement of that industry.  If the agricultural industry was successful throughout Essex they would have a prosperous county.


Mr T F Sewell, chairman of the Parish Council, proposed a vote of thanks to Miss Courtauld for providing the Hall.  He little thought he should live to see such a splendid Hall in the parish, and as a memorial to one who did so much good in the neighbourhood.  (Hear, hear).  As the oldest parishioner, he would like to thank Miss Courtauld most sincerely for her handsome gift.  (Applause).  She could rest assured that she had conferred upon the village the greatest boom it had ever had.  (Applause).


The Rev R B Hill seconding the vote with evident pleasure, added that he would like to thank Miss Courtauld in the first place for erecting the Hall to the memory of a man who many of them were privileged to know,. and whose life and character should be of great value to all.  The Hall should be of great assistance to cause them to remember him to whose memory it was erected, and to work in the same spirit.  The late Mr Courtauld was a just man, considerate and one full of human interests.  The Hall should prove of the greatest benefit to the village, and if all worked together harmoniously there was a great future for the Hall.


The vote of thanks was carried with acclamation.


Miss Courtauld, in reply, said it had been a pleasure for her to build the Hall, and she hoped it would prove of the greatest use to the village for many years to come.



Halstead & Colne Valley Gazette – Friday 23rd June 1922

Local Notes and Gossip  – The name of Courtauld has been for so many years associated with everything that is good in the public life of Halstead, and of the surrounding district, that even were nothing further done to perpetuate his memory, the late Mr George Courtauld could hardly be forgotten by those who owe him so much of their prosperity and their local amenities.  Nevertheless, there could hardly be any memorial which would please him better than the munificent gifts to the people which have been made in his memory by members of his family.  They are truly following the traditions of their father in making these gifts, which, in addition to their memorial value, have that quality of supreme public usefulness which marked all that the late Mr Courtauld did for the neighbourhood.  Colne Engaine has reasons to be thankful that one branch of the family is located in their midst, in the person of that very highly esteemed lady, Miss K M Courtauld.  The magnificent Village Hall which she has just presented to the village is indeed a fitting expression of the munificence which always has marked the gifts made by the family to those around them; and will perpetuate the characteristic kindness of its generous donor no less than that of the memory of her father, who set so worthy a tradition of generosity.  Village life, though by no means so dull as those may imagine who have not endured it, is yet dull enough; and the provision of such a hall must make for opportunities of entertainment and social intercourse which cannot but be for the great benefit of the inhabitants, especially during the winter months.  The hall is exceptionally complete in its equipment, all admirably designed for the purpose it is intended to serve and is planned with admirable foresight and business instinct; which, after all, might be expected from a member of the family on whom the prosperity of Halstead and its neighbourhood has for so long depended.




Four Colnes Magazine

January 1936

The thanks of the village are due to Mr George Courtauld, who has created the K M Courtauld Trust by which the Village Hall is secured to our use and provision is made for aid to its maintenance and for the perpetuation of Miss Courtauld’s Christmas gifts of coal.





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