Written by Councillor Josephine Spencer, February 2000

There has been a Village Hall on this site since 1887.

The benefactors were General Evan Maberly and his wife Laura Charlotte. They purchased Mudeford House in 1871 but changed the name to Avonmouth House (now the Christchurch Harbour Hotel). The General gave the land and Mrs Maberly defrayed the cost of the building. It was opened on 11 February 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.

Originally known as the Mission Room it was to be used for “religious, educational, musical and political purposes without distinction to sect or party”.

The following extract is taken from the Christchurch Times of February 1887:

‘The mission room which has been erected at Stanpit through the kindness of Mrs Maberly of Avonmouth House, was opened on Thursday evening in a very auspicious manner. The room which is situated on the west side of the main road, is constructed of wood with iron outside.

‘Inside it has a bright and airy appearance and especially bright was it when decorated with flags. It is lighted with gas, and heated by a pair of powerful gas stoves, and is seated with comfortable backed forms. There is a platform of nice proportions at the upper end of the room. At the opening service on Thursday, there was an attendance of about 200. The room being quite full, although many were prevented from attending by the extreme coldness of the weather.

‘General the Hon. B. M. Ward of Burton (son-in-law of Mrs Maberly) presided and the meeting opened with the singing of the hymn “Stand up and bless the Lord”. After the reading of the 127th and 100th Psalms, the Reverend H. C. M. Barton of Mudeford offered appropriate prayers …

‘Mrs Maberly who was enthusiastically received, said that what she had to say would be very little. She thanked everyone for their help and then declared the room open’.

General Maberly died in 1899 but Mrs Maberly continued to oversee the Management Committee until her death on 3 June 1912. In her Will she gave the freehold and the building at 35 Stanpit to the Vicar of Christchurch for the use of the inhabitants of Stanpit. (Duly registered with the Charity Commissioner on 3 January 1913).

The wooden Village Hall was burnt down in 1948 but was replaced two years later with a small prefabricated room.

Prior to World War II the Hall was the focal point for village life. There were dances called “Liza’s Sixpenny Hops”, socials, amateur dramatics and whist drives.

During the war the main room was used as a canteen and recreation room for troops billeted nearby. The small room was a first aid post.

On 26 February 1960 the Hall was again completely gutted by fire. However thanks to the efforts of many local residents who held coffee mornings, jumble sales and whist drives, the necessary funding was raised to rebuild out existing Hall. One of the highlights was the very successful Mudeford Carnival. This Carnival was for many years an annual event on 25 August.

The Hall (designed by Mr Ronald Sims) reopened in April 1962. Special features of this Hall have to be the outstanding views across the harbour. It is the downstairs room with a view that is being refurbished and dedicated to our benefactor, Mrs Laura Charlotte Maberly.

In November 1989 Stanpit Village Hall was judged the best run Village Hall in Christchurch. The Trustees were awarded a framed certificate and a cheque for £70.

It seems appropriate to celebrate the Millennium on 11 February 2000 with an exhibition and displays by the users of the Village Hall (113 years exactly from the opening of the Mission Hall in 1887).