History of Hapstead Hall 1874-2018

Originally the site of Hapstead Hall was part of Wakehurst Estate. The  Reading Room, then called the Games Room was built in 1874 for Lord Arthur Hill of Wakehurst Place, the land that had been conveyed to him by his mother, The Marchioness of Downshire, owner then of Wakehurst Place.

On the 1st February 1878 the property was sold to Mr James Burt of Upper Clapton, Middlesex, a draper, for the sum of £210.00. This sale included the land on which Hapstead Hall now stands.

On the 14th May 1902, Mrs Rachael Gertrude Burt sold to Mr Henry Herbert Hett of Hapstead House, Ardingly, the Reading Room and adjacent land for £300.00.

In 1902 Mr H H Hett commissioned the building of the main Hall to join onto the Reading Room and was built by a local builder Mr Dumsday, the foreman Mr George Wells of Turners Hill and the architect was a cousin of Mrs Hett, Mr Frank Troup RIBA.

There are no records of Hapstead Hall between 1902 and 1919 and it was presumed managed solely by the Hett family.

On 19th May 1919, Mr Hett conveyed the Hall by way of a gift to mark the victory of the 1914-1918 War to appointed trustees who were charged to allow the property to be used as a Public Hall or place for holding meetings, entertainments, for a place of recreation or as a club room for public reading and newspaper room for the benefit of the inhabitants of Ardingly and such other persons who in the opinion of the trustees are fit and proper persons to be allowed the use of the premises.

The first decision of the trustees was to name the hall “Hapstead Hall” and should be under the sole management and control of the trustees.  The trustees called a public meeting to place before it a proposal to form a Village Club. From the voting figures there were well over 100 persons present.

The Village Club was formed to which all Village organisations became member as well as individual residents. The Village Club also took over the management of the Recreation Ground.

In 1923 the Cricket and Football Clubs broke away from the Village Club and became independent and responsible for their own finances.

In 1930 the recreation ground maintenance proved to be a financial burden on the Village Club and  views were expressed that the responsibility for the maintenance should be handed back to the Ground Trustees.

In the same year concerns were expressed over the poor state of finances of the Village Club which culminated in a public notice that the Village Club would cease to exist from the 31st December 1931 and Hapstead Hall would be managed by a Management Committee consisting of representatives from the various activities interested in the use of the Hall.

From 1931 until 1959, the Hall was constantly in financial difficulties so that in 1957 the Ardingly Parish Council was requested to make a grant of £25.00 and from then on has increased each year.

The Stable Clock from Hapstead House, residence of Mrs May Hett, 1899 to 1950 was renovated and installed in a clock turret at Hapstead Hall in her memory. This work was  undertaken by her family in response to a general wish expressed by parishioners. It was completed in the year of the Festival of Britain, 1951.

On 29th October 1959 a Parish meeting agreed that the Hall should be registered as a Charity. A Charity Commission Scheme was made making the Parish Council custodian trustee but the management of the Hall still remained with a Management Committee consisting of representatives from all organisations using the hall and 3 village representatives.

In 1984 the Charity Commission Scheme was amended to make the Parish Council member the Custodian Trustees , while members of the Management Committee are now solely responsible for the upkeep and management of Hapstead Hall.

Hapstead Hall went through a comprehensive refurbishment in 2008, ongoing upkeep works are being carried out with the roof, clock tower and windows recently being the latest projects.

Hapstead Hall would like to give thanks to the Ardingly History Society for allowing  access to Hapstead Hall historic files and records.