History

In July 1925 the foundation stone for Shiplake Memorial Hall was laid and a memorial tablet unveiled. Heber Reginald Mardon had been killed on 9th October 1918 aged 19. In 1924 his parents put forward a proposal to provide land and to finance the construction of a village hall at cost of £3,500. This building would, they hoped, benefit the community and be a fitting memorial to their son and the men of Shiplake and Binfield Heath who lost their lives in the First World War. Over the years the hall has had various facelifts and extensions modernising and adapting to the changing times but always remaining an integral part of village life. A place where people from all over the community can come together for celebration, for learning, for exercise and companionship. 

A Village Hall is so much more than a building and this is Shiplake Memorial Hall’s story so far.

1924

A generous proposal is made by Mr and Mrs Mardon of Haileywood House, Shiplake to build a Memorial Hall at a cost of around £3,500.
The proposal is welcomed and a committee is set up.

1925

January The committee proposed the addition of an Institute to the Hall. The Mardons agreed and offered an additional £500 towards the costs of altered plans.

July 18 th 1925 A Formal ceremony attended by the Bishop of Oxford to lay the foundation stone and at the same time the Memorial Tablet is unveiled by Mrs Mardon.  The Programme of the Day and the report from the ‘Henley Standard and South Oxfordshire Standard’ show that this was a major occasion with a grand procession of various groups, many in full regalia, singing led by a choir and a large number of the general public present. Further it is at this event that Sir Frederick Eley Baronet Sagamore makes the generous offer to purchase, from the Mardon Family, the 5 acres adjacent to the Hall and Institute for use as a sports field.

The revised picture of the Hall to the new design shows a considerably larger building with a handsome memorial tower set on the northern end of the building.  Local history suggests that the tower height and position were agreed so Mrs Mardon might be able see the memorial from her home in Shiplake. 

1927

23rd April 1927 – The Shiplake Memorial Hall and Institute are formally opened and handed over to the Trustees on 23rd April 1927.  The attached introductory provides a wonderful description of the Hall as it was then complete with maple dance floor, accommodation for a cinema operative and apparatus, a full sized billiards table and a grand piano!  The lovely maple floor is still there and films still shown but alas no longer a billiards table nor grand piano!

21st June 1927 – Various public meetings were held over the course of the next few months to set up a management committee and decide how the Hall and Institute should best be used.  These meetings were sometimes lengthy as can be seen in the report from The Henley and South Oxfordshire Standard but there was a clear desire to “make that building a real living force in the parish…”. Representatives are elected for The Football Club, The Cricket Club and the British Legion.  It is now that talk of a Bowling Green as well as tennis courts is discussed and much agreement that a Women’s Institute should be formed.

We are grateful to Henley Library, The Henley Standard and Shiplake Parish Church for some of the historic material included in this summary of the history of Shiplake Memorial Hall.

Modernisation

The facilities and layout limit the potential exploitation of the hall and despite careful maintenance over the years, age and wear and tear are taking their toll. Flat roofs leak and are expensive to look after, users often comment that the kitchen facilities are antiquated and inconvenient, and there is nowhere to hold small meetings comfortably whilst the main hall is in use.

This vital community asset is now in need of extensive modernisation to make it fit for many generations of future use. Please see here for more details and photos.