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How Medbourne School becameĀ our Village Hall.

The Medbourne Village School and headmaster’s house were constructed in the period 1868 to 1869 to a design by the celebrated local architect Joseph Goddard. The small hall was added in 1911-12 in similar style. The original school was opened in May 1869 and it is now a Grade 2 listed building.

The owners and managers of the School were established as the Free School Charity in 1873 when the Charity Commission approved a Scheme for a school based charity in the village. When the school closed on the 10th April 1981 the purpose of the original charity ceased and the future of the old school became uncertain. There was, however, an active group in Medbourne that had fought the closure of the school and then gone on to produce a Village Appraisal, so the then Free School Trustees were well aware that the village wanted to be able to use the buildings as a new village hall if the school were to close.

At the beginning of 1983 the whole matter was brought to a head when our local County Councillor, who was also a trustee of the Free School Charity, received a letter from the Church of England Leicester Diocesan Board of Education stating that they were intending to seek an order to take over ownership of the property, just as though it had been a Church of England school and not a Free School. They were entitled to do this at that time, although it was not an automatic right.

The Medbourne Free School Trustees did not want to accept this without referring back to the villagers, who were, of course, fully behind retaining the buildings. What then ensued was a five year negotiation involving, the Leicester Diocesan Board of Education, the Charity Commission, the Free School Trustees, the Parish Council and the Village Hall Management Committee and all their respective solicitors. The whole process was very complex and whilst the details are still fully documented, it resulted in an agreement between the five organisation, that the Free School Charity would continue but with an amended purpose and that they should enter into a lease with the Parish Council which would include the arrangement that the Village Hall Management Committee would manage and operate the old school as a Village Hall.

Whilst all this seems quite convoluted it is the result of five organisations compromising in order to secure the continued use of the old school for the benefit of the residents of Medbourne. The first lease for 35 years was signed on the 2nd October 1987 but it was replaced by a longer lease, at the request of the Village Hall Management Committee and Parish Council, on the 18th May 2010 for a 48 year period. Both of these leases had to be approved by the Charity Commission, as will any future extension of the lease period.

In the period between the signing of the first lease and the opening of the new Village Hall on the 16th January 1988, the old school underwent its first upgrade to convert it to Village Hall use. The Village Hall Committee owned its previous building (known as the Reading Room), further along Main Street and after obtaining village and Charity Commission approval it was sold. The funds were then placed in a ring fenced Village Hall account with the intention of using them only for capital works.

Related histories are The Reading Room - Medbourne's first Village Hall and The History of Medbourne School as told through the school logs.

With thanks to Ann and Tom Price, Village Hall Committee Members during the above transition period.
Posted online in October 2020.