Our Village Hall and the New Archive Room

Village_Hall_1Happy faces outside the Village Hall as residents await the opening on Saturday, 5th September.

The wooden hoardings have been removed from the car park; the tarmac has been laid; the paint pots, saws and drills have disappeared – the ‘new’ Village Hall is open for action!  Earlier this year the Parish Council received a grant from the Big Lottery Fund to extend and improve the building and, judging from the comments I have heard, everyone is delighted at the result.  The Village Hall Committee can be justly proud of what has been achieved, in particular, Lisa Thornton who spearheaded the project with great success. Having said that, Lisa doesn’t rest on her laurels; she told me that if anyone spots anything that needs altering or correcting, then let her know.

The two-storey extension to the front has enabled the entrance area to be enlarged and now has a lift and new staircase.  A corridor running parallel with the main hall allows access to the kitchen and new toilet facilities.

Upstairs, the walls of the main meeting room are covered with a large mural depicting scenes of the village – look closer and you may even be able to recognise a few local characters!  The mural vibrates with colour and was painted by a group of enthusiastic residents. Just along the corridor, past another new toilet with baby-changing facilities, is the room once mysteriously known as the ‘carpet room’.  If this room ever had a carpet, I’ve never seen it but, from now on, it will be the Bishopthorpe Community Archive Room.

It is a little bare at present as members of the Bishopthorpe Local History Group are still sorting out furniture and storage for the collection of material that has been gathered – and which continues to grow.  When the room is straightened out, it is hoped that it will be opened to members of the public on a regular basis.  Those who wish to search for their Bishopthorpe ancestors; browse through photographs; research the history of their house or, indeed, any aspect of Bishopthorpe history, will be welcome.  There will be more news on this at a later date.

Looking back to Saturday, 5th September, the grand re-opening of the Hall took place and many villagers arrived to view the changes for the first time.Village_Hall_2

Parish Council Chairman, Stewart Harrison, opens the refurbished Village Hall.


Village_Hall_3Parish Councillor, Lisa Thornton, enjoying the Chairman’s opening speech.


Village_Hall_4Queues form on the 5th September to view the new interior.

History Group members, Freda Smith, Gweneth Marshall, Susannah Smith and Alison Rutter, turned out to “man” the Archive Room for the open day and were overwhelmed by the response.

Despite experiencing a slight hitch with her lunch arrangements, Freda was easily persuaded to write a short account of a memorable occasion:

The start of a very busy day was the dismantling of our WW2 display in Bishopthorpe Library and putting it up again in the History Group’s Archive Room in the Village Hall.

Following this, we all went outside for the official opening by Stewart Harrison, Chairman of the Parish Council, at 11.00 a.m.

A lot of people came into our Archive Room. We had between one and eight members of the public in our room from just after 11.00 a.m. until 3.00 p.m., when Lisa Thornton said it was time to pack up. Most of the time we were very busy, so busy that some people were unable to gain entrance. In fact, Gweneth and I did not eat our sandwiches until about 1.20 p.m. – 1.30 p.m. and only had time for a very brief look around at the rest of the Hall.

Some people identified persons in photographs whom we had not yet been able to identify, while others chatted about various points of local interest and promised to provide us with further information. One lady said our display, photographs and maps were “fantastic”. We handed out quite a few of our history trail and pinfold leaflets.

Gweneth and I went back to the Village Hall for 7.30 p.m. for the buffet supper. Champagne was offered as we arrived and photographs were taken. The food was delicious. In addition to the raspberry Pavlova there were profiteroles and apple pie for puddings. There was also a cake in the shape of the Village Hall. Stewart Harrison and Lisa Thornton made speeches and Lisa was given a beautiful bunch of flowers.

Music was played throughout the meal and “All Souled Out” played afterwards. They were very good. We went home just after 10.00 p.m., having had an enjoyable day and evening.


Photographs courtesy of Freda Smith

War Time for an Archbishop

When war was declared in September 1939, Dr. William Temple was Archbishop of York.  He and his wife threw themselves into the war effort taking in evacuees and making the Palace and its grounds available to local organisations.  Three years later, in 1942, he was translated to Canterbury.

The following extract is taken from the Archbishop’s biography, William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury: His Life and Letters, by F. A. Iremonger.

On Sunday, 3 September [1939], the Archbishop Temple announced from his throne in the Minster that the country was at war, and that night the first sirens wailed over the city of York.

Changes were inevitable at Bishopthorpe, and were smoothly made.  Towards the end of their time the Archbishop and his wife took to living almost entirely in the north wing of the palace; a pleasant bedroom facing south and west did duty for Temple’s study, and a small room near the kitchen, looking out on the garden, for their dining-room.  Mrs. Temple and her invaluable secretary, Miss Sinker, became adept at improvising floor (and bed) space at the shortest notice; a dozen evacuees, including some children, occupied rooms at the end of the north wing and a flat over the garage; members of the Women’s Institute made jam in the old kitchen; for a few months the drawing-room was used for A. R. P. lectures, whist-drives, and dances; the Home Guard had a rifle-range for practice in the walled garden; and the local N. F. S. did not disguise their amusement when Temple took part in a rehearsal and lay flat on his front directing the nozzle of a stirrup-pump at an imaginary incendiary bomb.

An important local achievement was the institution of the York Council for War-time Service, which co-ordinated the work of all the canteens and clubs for the troops organized by many agencies; the voluntary helpers at one of the largest of these centres were organized by Mrs. Temple and Miss Sinker who, on several nights in the week, drove nine miles to the I.T.C. at Strensall; sometimes the Archbishop, who was Chairman of the Council,  came out to the canteen to talk with the men or to hold an occasional service for them in the canteen.

Yorkshire had its full share of attacks from the air; there were two devastating raids on Hull, and one on the city of York; but it was not until they reached Canterbury that the Archbishop and his wife were to know the horrors of an air-raid at first hand.

  1. A. Iremonger, William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury: His Life and Letters, (OUP, 1948) pp385-6