There’s no place for loneliness with a thriving village hall

A Guest Post from Another Village

Clear blue summer skies and vibrant green patchwork fields above the iconic Cotswold village of Painswick, with its honey coloured limestone cottages and historic church spire, Gloucestershire, UK. ProPhoto RGB profile for maximum color fidelity and gamut. Aerial panorama over idyllic country village cottages green summer fields 
‘The Government is marking Village Halls Week by offering a round of grants of up to £75,000 for village-hall repairs and improvements’

Last Saturday it was Wassail Night in the west Somerset village of Stogumber (population 600). This involved a procession in the freezing cold from apple tree to apple tree, singing songs and warding off evil spirits, in the parish council-owned field before revelries in the village hall – supper, accordion music and dancing, tickets £7.

Next week, the same building will host the monthly community lunch for the over-60s – my 89-year-old mother never misses one – the week after, a showing of the Downton Abbey film as part of a calendar of monthly cinema evenings. 

Like thousands of other rural village halls, this modest building is a nucleus of sociability: the place to go for quizzes and teas, parties and wakes, lectures, meetings and murder mysteries. In June, it’s Open Gardens Weekend, when hundreds of lunches and teas – a spectacular spread prepared by volunteers in the village hall kitchen – will be served to visitors from far and wide, raising thousands of pounds for charity. There’s WiFi, easy access for the infirm and disabled and a terrace that offers a glorious, uplifting view to the Quantock hills.

The village hall is rarely the most distinguished architectural feature of the locality, but it’s arguably the most indispensible. They’ve long been used for playgroups and parish meetings; now, they double up as doctor’s surgeries, internet hubs, polling stations, schools and for blood-donor sessions. According to ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England), volunteers give up 18.5 hours a week to look after village halls – unsung, unglamorous work for which we should give heartfelt thanks.

Where I live, in Kingsclere, on the North Hampshire Downs, the village club, as it’s known, encompasses the much-loved, volunteer-run library (now under threat of closure), police and parish-council offices and hosts myriad events, among them wine-tasting, yoga, art and “Move it or Lose it” classes, films, clubs and an annual midsummer performance in the garden by a touring Shakespeare company. As in any village, everyone converges there to have their say on the latest local planning developments. 

The village hall is where local talent springs to the fore – who knew the doctor had such a rich bass singing voice? That the B&B owner could do a mean Lady Macbeth or the retiring ex-bank manager a turn as a brilliant jazz pianist? And where else would Midsomer Murders scriptwriters set the AGMs and dramatic outbursts that are a prelude to (fictional) homicide? 

Many village halls now have Facebook pages, yet, despite the accessibility of social media in all its guises, we have collectively never been a more lonely population. As rural communities haemorrhage buses, pubs, shops, schools and libraries, it’s welcome news that the Government is marking Village Halls Week by offering a round of grants of up to £75,000 for village-hall repairs and improvements. 

But though our national disease may now be loneliness – the root of so many serious mental health issues – you can never really be lonely as a country dweller if your village hall is active. If anything, you’re likely to find the choice of activities and opportunities almost too exhausting. And you’ll discover fascinating things you never knew about your neighbours.    

Kate Green is Deputy Editor of Country Life

Bach Walk

Bach Walk – Saturday 16 May

In 1705 J.S.Bach walked 250 miles from Arnstadt to Lubeck, Germany, in search of musical inspiration. We are organizing a similar walk but not of such length or time!

Do join us for a walk (or drive if you prefer) from Manton to Wing, a concert of Bach music in Wing Church, a return walk back to Manton, a picnic ( bring your own) in a beautiful Manton garden and a second concert of Bach music in Manton Church.

Music will be provided by pupils of Uppingham and Oakham Schools. Each concert will last about 40 mins.

More details and Tickets – £10 from Anne Cowan 01572737503 and Alice Hill 01572737516. Proceeds will be divided between Manton and Wing Churches.

Quiz and Chips – 14th March

Join us on Saturday 14th March for a quiz evening with chip shop delivery at the interval.

Teams of 4 to test their general knowledge against our evening quiz masters, Lyn and Ken Walsh. Doors open at 6.45pm for a 7.15pm  quiz start. Bar and raffle as usual.

Please contact Helen or Lyn on or  to book either in teams or individuals to make up a team.

Tickets £5 per person which includes a fresh bag of chips plus ketchup/mayonnaise/curry sauce. Booking essential to confirm chip shop delivery! Raffle donations gratefully received!

The Seagull

Shoestring Logo B&W

The Seagull

by Anton Chekhov in a new version by David Hare

Set in late 19th century Russia, where people are experiencing change and facing an uncertain future, Chekhov’s great comedy is very relevant today. David Hare’s new version was premiered at Chichester in 2015 and transferred to the National Theatre in 2016 to great acclaim.

The next Shoestring Theatre production is at Stamford Arts Centre at 7.45pm from Tuesday 3rd to Saturday 7th March. 

Wing Advent Windows

Last Monday a discerning group of judges visited Wing to judge the Advent Windows.
Led by ‘senior judge ‘ aka Jo Douglas, a group from Nordic Walkit  took on the unenviable task of selecting ‘Best in Show’. 

After a careful walk around the village, they returned to Joanne Beaver’s home for seasonal refreshments.

Fuelled by soup, garlic bread, mulled wine and mince pies, the debate raged, all shouting for their favourite. Finally after several rounds of voting, by the narrowest margins, the final selection was agreed. So Congratulations to Ros and Robert King ,Carolyn and Mike Sayers and Sally Rowsell and Family.

Thank You, Rhiannon, for organising it.




The Chief Executive and Cabinet at Rutland County Council are very focused on pushing all matters related to SGB through as quickly as possible!  

Until the Local Plan review takes place in the Spring it is important that we continue to try and make our Council see sense. It is therefore essential for us to do a number of things: attend and speak at all Council meetings, express our concerns in letters to the press and talk to people throughout the County about the consequential and catastrophic effects St George’s will have on Rutland, our rural roads and the local economies in our market towns.

We must make each and every stage as difficult as possible for the Council so that a full and fair consultative process is now followed.  So far it has not been so.

A reminder of the reasons why we must not be defeated by the Council’s and the MOD’s insistence that SGB is a viable site. Government planning rules state:-

  • The Council MUST LISTEN to the views of the community.
  • EMPLOYMENT must come FIRST – that’s “PROVEN” jobs before houses.
  • Our Objectively Assessed Housing need states 160 house PA across Rutland – which we can more than provide for within our county towns and many villages.
  • Our CURRENT LOCAL PLAN is VALID until a new plan is inspected and adopted.

In order to keep up a continued presence and therefore pressure, we ask as many people as possible to attend the next two meetings at the Council offices. We are hoping to overfill the chamber so PLEASE give an hour or so of your time to make sure that both RCC and our Cabinet and Councillors are fully aware that YOU will not be a push over! 

Spread the word please to as many people as you can including those in other villages and our towns. It is important that the Council start to see this as a county wide issue.


Thursday  19th December 7pm

This is a Public Scrutiny Meeting with an agenda to scrutinise the upcoming documents for a Cabinet meeting planned for the 23rd December. A 450 page document covering this was released to the public last Friday (13th). You are allowed to ask questions if you attend (according to strict rules) but listening in is fine too.  Understanding what is going on is essential for future enjoyment of your County.

  Monday 23rd December 6pm

Cabinet meeting – This is for the Cabinet to discuss and decide what they will present to our Councillors for their decisions in January.

At both meetings the agenda items will include: 

Whether to recommend to our Councillors the acceptance of the terms and conditions for the HIF fund (this may in part be a closed room as we are actually not privy to budgetary information).

The Spatial Strategy of Rutland – that is a decision on how SGB could fit in within Rutland  – is it a new Community somewhere between the size Oakham & Uppingham or NOT RIGHT FOR RUTLAND?

SGB vs Woolfox

Transport Reviews

Environmental Reviews



Cost assessment (EXEMPT REPORT)

Produced on behalf of the Concerned Residents of Wing  (CROW)

CROW contacts:

Ken Siddle –

John Dejardin –

– Source documents below

From the Heart of Rutland

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