Village Halls Week – 25th to 29th January – and a new ‘Domesday Book’

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It’s Village Halls Week from Monday 25th to Friday 29th January – and village halls across England are being encouraged to sign an online record to mark 100 years of rural community action. 

The new take on Domesday has been set up by national charity Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) as part of Village Halls Week - a celebration of the contribution more than 10,000 community and village halls across England, and their volunteers, make to rural communities.  

ACRE Chair, David Emerson, said, “We’re delighted to announce details of our Village Halls Domesday Book published today. It is a unique opportunity for village halls up and down the country to help us create a public record of the good things they have been doing, and the difference they make to local people as we celebrate a centenary of rural community action. 

We very much hope the Domesday Book will serve as a reminder of how valuable these buildings are at a time when many have been forced to close their doors due to the national lockdown.” 

The challenge of COVID-19 

In 2021 the campaign week is focussing on how village halls are survivors and have risen to the Covid challenge. In the past year, the volunteers who manage these buildings have shown great determination and resilience in the face of the pandemic, negotiating lockdowns and putting in place Covid-secure measures so they could continue supporting their local community where possible. 

CAN is ACRE’s Norfolk affiliate, and a significant element of our work is the advice, guidance and support we give to village and community halls in finding funding for improvement, activities, and in governance training for trustees. This work continued unabated throughout 2020 as village halls have adapted the way they operate and engage with their communities. If you need advice and support for a project your village or community hall is embarking upon, or governance guidance, contact CAN’s Development Officers on 01362 698216 or email [email protected].  

Norfolk of course has hundreds of its own village halls, each serving as a focal social point for one or more rural or urban communities. Some go back a long way – the oldest may well be at Bressingham, housed in a seventeenth-century barn, whilst that at Baconsthorpe has been onsite for more than 200 years, with Longham Village Hall just fifty years behind. Others, such as Wereham, Thornham, Filby and Strumpshaw, are very new, incorporating the latest state-of-the art facilities. 

Today, village halls support a diverse range of community activities from exercise classes to coffee mornings and are routinely hired out for private parties and weddings, whilst others host community shops and post offices.  

The Domesday Book is prefaced by a forward from Lord Gardiner of Kimble, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs who is a long-time supporter of village halls. And ACRE intends to use the record to help make the case for sustained funding and support for village halls as the country recovers from the coronavirus pandemic. 

Visit and sign The Village Halls Domesday Book here.