Village Meeting Places

past and present

arranged in approximate chronological order

Ever since the population of the village was no more than a few dozen people at the time of the Domesday book, there would have been a public meeting places near the centre of the village. From what is known from ancient maps, the layout of the village centre, and the buildings that existed in the past, we can have a good idea where these places for meetings and celebrations were located.

Outdoor Locations

Proclamation.JPGAt the time of the Domesday book in 1085, when there were probably no more than a dozen cottages and no public buildings, it is likely that the village square would have been the sole meeting place. A Village Crier would have used a hand bell to summon the residents and then make proclamations on behalf of the Lord of the Manor. This scene has been re-enacted at recent jubilee celebrations in The Square when a modern day village crier has read a proclamation of allegiance to

the Queen. Newspaper reports from the 1800s and the early 1900s tell us that many other outdoor locations as well as The Square were used as venues for village celebrations, for example...

1887 - Jubilee dinner for 250 in Follyfaults barns

1888 - Band of Hope, tea at Bounds Farm

1888 - Horticultural society event in Rectory Garden

1890 - Childrens tea in the meadow at Follyfaults

1911 - Coronation party in Hall farm meadow & school

1919 - Returning WW1 troops in the rectory grounds

1934 - Village fete in the rectory grounds

1936 - Coronation party in Church Farm meadow

From the 1940s onwards, the Playing Field at the end of Fish St. was used for fetes and other activities, as well as sports events. In recent years many social events have been held on the front lawn of the Church.

The Church

image007.jpgThe original Church of St Peters was probably the first public building in the village and would have been a simple stone and thatch structure with no tower. As well as being used for religious ceremonies early churches were also used as public meeting places. The nave and chancel were separated by a rood screen and this remained in the church until the 1930s. For secular meetings and events the doors in the screen were closed and the sacred items protected. The fixed pews we see today were introduced in the 1850s. St Peters is still used today for concerts.

Village Barns

Barn.jpgThe ancient barns, including the Tithe Barn next to the Church, provided an ideal indoor meeting place during the middle ages. The primary purpose of the tithe barn was to provide storage for arable crops given by landowners and farmers in payment of taxes to the Church. However most of the produce would have been presented at harvest time and at other times of the year this barn and others in and around the village would have been available for other uses including public meetings and village events.

There are newspaper reports from the 1800s and 1900s of village events being held in some of these barns. Parts of the 1911 coronation celebrations were held in the Hall Farm barn with 240 people sitting down to dinner. For many years, and as recently as the millennium, Cobbs Farm barn was used for the annual harvest festival supper.

Chequers Inn

image001.jpgThe Chequers Inn is the oldest buildings in the centre of village, and building was a yeomans house used as a court room by both the Lord of the Manor and by circuit judges before it became a public house. The Manorial Court was presided over by the Lord of the Manor with the assistance of his steward, who would have approved property transfers in the village. As recently as 1890s the Chequers was used for inquests. It would undoubtedly have been used for many public and private meetings and is still used today for the Friendly Brothers meetings.

Village School



Despite its original tiny size the Village School was extensively used as a meeting room during the period when that the Revd Gardner was the rector and during the Great War there were many meetings and concerts held in The School Rooms.

Parish Room

image012.jpgThe Parish Room was built by the Revd Gardner in 1906 on land that he owned next to the Parsonage in Head Street. Originally it was just one room, with second room being added later. The Rector originally intended as a reading room for residents, and it was known as the Church Room and then as the Parish Hall. Many meetings and social events were held there and several village societies and clubs used it as their base, including Scouts, Cubs, Conservative Association, and many more. It was demolished in the 1980.

British Legion Hall

image006.jpgThe British Legion Hall was located half way down in Fish Street between the 1940s and 1967. Funds raised in the village for residents serving in World War II were used to purchase it after the troops returned at the end of the war. The purchase was supported by Jack Cohen founder of TESCO who lived at Lt London Farm. The land which was donated by local farmer, Mr Sweetland and was previously an orchard. The new hall was given to the Royal British Legion to manage.

In the ten years immediately after the war, the Goldhanger branch of the Legion had many enthusiastic supporters. Monthly Catholic services also took place there and it was used by the sailing club and the youth club. However, at that time there was also the village hall, parish rooms. In 1967 it was sold with the land to a Hazeleigh based builders. The construction of the building meant it could easily taken apart and moved and it became the Purleigh cricket pavilion, where it remains today.


Village Hall.jpgVillage Hall

The Village Hall in Head Street was opened in 1937 and there was a local newspaper report of the opening ceremony at the time.. The land was donated by a local farmer and a remarkable number of groups within the village and several national organisations worked together to fund and construct the building, which is not too different to what we see today. The founding organisations were...

Parish Council

Parochial Church Council

Members of the Free Churches

Women's Institute

Men's Club

District Nursing Association

Drama Society

Sports Club

Local branch of the Brotherhood

Mothers' Union

Friendly Society

School Managers

Boy Scouts

Girl Guides


Local branch of the County Library

Local Infant Welfare Committee

Womens Sunshine Band

Essex Rural Communities Council

The Carnegie Trust


Today the Village Hall remains at the centre of village social events and a base for many Societies and Clubs, and has a dedicated website.

Community Room

Community Room.jpg


A Community Room was built onto the north side of St Peters Church in 2010. It provides a small meeting room accommodating about 20 people. It has a kitchenette, together with disabled access to the Church and toilet facilities and is available for secular purposes.


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