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Liberty hall – William Cook on village halls

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Drill hall: Captain Mainwaring musters the Home Guard in Walmington-on-Sea

As the Government sets up a new £3m fund for Britain’s 10,000 village halls, William Cook visits his local one – and is enchanted

Some of my fondest childhood memories are rooted in those homely places known as village halls, in and around Stapleford, Cambridgeshire – playing ping-pong, frequenting jumble sales and watching my mum’s friends doing dreadful am-dram. But then I went away to seek my fortune and left village life far behind. More fool me. Now, half a lifetime later, I’m back in a village at long last (hurrah!) – a pretty place called Ickenham, near Uxbridge, with a medieval church and a miniature railway and even a few independent shops and cafés. It’s on the edge of London – so much of its original village life has inevitably been buried beneath suburban sprawl, but it’s been a wonderful surprise to find that the village hall is still there. Ickenham Village Hall is the hub of this community. Without it, I wonder if there’d be much of a community here at all...

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