Cosgrove Village Hall

The people of Cosgrove began to identify the need for a community hall when increasing leisure time led to groups and clubs meeting informally in the Old School building on the Green.

In 1898 there was a Parochial lending library in the Old School Building. Although Cosgrove Church was powerful and active in those days it was not common for churches to be the community buildings they are today.

Sunday schools and various clubs came and went in this building. Once the new school opened in 1912 the old building was used for many years as a meeting room for youth groups. We know that there was a “Girls’ Friendly Society” which may have met there.

During both World Wars clubs and societies became more commonplace and during the Second World War Cosgrove identified the need for a permanent community meeting place for the village.

In 1945 a memorable fund raising event was held, to build a “Victory Hall” in Cosgrove.

Wolverton Express 25th May 1945

Queen of Albania Visits Cosgrove Hall

“Victory Hall” Garden Party

Several thousand people visited the spacious grounds of Cosgrove Hall, the home of Mr and Mrs G H Winterbottom on Whit-Monday, when the attractive young Queen of Albania, Queen Geraldine, accompanied by Princess Teri and Princess Danush, opened a garden fête in aid of Cosgrove’s Victory Hall Fund. Had it not been for half-an-hour’s heavy rain just at the appointed opening time, the attendance would have been much greater. As it was the number present must have been a record for a similar function held in this immediate locality.

A fete in May 1945 to raise money for the rebuilding of the old village hall in Cosgrove was opened by Queen Geraldine of Albania, the beautiful young Hungarian who married King Zog. The six little children are dressed as bride and groom, and attendants. Robin Winterbottom presented a bouquet of dark red carnations bound with taffeta bows of black and red the Albanian colours.

Left to right: Lady-in-waiting, Mrs Penelope Winterbottom, Queen Geraldine, a Princess.
Children: Sylvia Wickham, Brenda Goodridge, Pat Bushell, Pauline Pollard, Robin Winterbottom, Frances, daughter of Mr and Mrs Charles Sweeney.

Much hard work was put into the arrangements, in which Mrs Winterbottom played a large share, and it is gratifying that the large sum of at least £200 will go towards the fund for the erection of a village hall.

Queen Geraldine, who was a Hungarian Countess in her own right before her marriage to King Zog, made a charming picture in a nigger brown costume and hat to match.

Mr and Mrs Winterbottom’s house party included, together with the Queen and Princesses, the princess Royal of Albania (lady-in-waiting), His Excellency Martini, Court Minister, Professor Nushi, Sir Orme Rowan Hamilton, former Governor of Bermuda, and a former Lord Chief Justice, Capt. R D Boulton, Chief Constable of Northamptonshire, and Mrs Boulton, Capt. G Hovdenak, Royal Norwegian Navy, Mrs Margaret Sweeney, famous society beauty, and Capt, Edgerton, RN.

Picturesque Opening Ceremony

It was a picturesque setting for the opening ceremony which took place at the far end of the large lawn. A happy party of six children representing a wedding-party, with bride (Miss Frances Sweeney) and bridegroom (Master Robin Winterbottom, the adopted son of Mr and Mrs G H Winterbottom), and retinue, Pauline Pollard, Brenda Goodridge, Sylvia Wickham, and Pat Bushell, all four being Cosgrove children. They were prettily attired in white frocks. Following the opening ceremony Frances Sweeney handed to Her Majesty a bouquet of choice crimson carnations whilst Robin Winterbottom presented the Queen with a silver time-piece suitably inscribed, from Mr and Mrs Winterbottom. The young “maids” each handed Queen Geraldine a floral bouquet which Capt. Boulton auctioned and made good prices.

Cosgrove Church Over 1100 Years Old

Sir Orme Rowan Hamilton made an able chairman and before calling upon Her Majesty spoke of the kindness of the Queen in coming to Cosgrove, and for Mr and Mrs Winterbottom’s ever-readiness to assist in good causes for the community. The village of Cosgrove was very old, he said, the church having been built 1100 years ago. Referring to Queen Geraldine, he said he hoped the time would soon come when she would be welcomed to her own country, from which she had been driven by brutality and inhumanity.

Cosgrove – “One of England’s Loveliest Villages”

“This is one of England’s loveliest villages, and I have seen many lovely places in this island of yours”, said Queen Geraldine.

She went on to refer to the purpose of the fête – to raise funds for a village hall – and said every village needed a happy communal life and a place in which people could enjoy all kinds of simple and healthy pleasures.

“When you have your hall” she said, “I hope you will remember all that you sacrificed in this war to get it, and I hope you will enjoy there pleasures with your loved ones, for these have been long years of separation.”

Fancy Dress Awards

The Queen and Princesses judged those in fancy costume and made the following awards: Ladies – 1 Eileen Tapp, Old Stratford (Coal Black Mammy); men – 1 Mrs N C Boreham, Stony Stratford (Scarecrow); girls – 1 Joyce Pack, Cosgrove (Britannia); boys – 1 Tony Lavington, Cosgrove (Louis XIV).


The stalls and sideshows were supervised as follows: L Hill, R Williams, Miss Gladys Loughrey, Miss Cynthia Tompkins, Mr G Beasley, Mrs W Giles, Mrs D Davies, A Loughrey, Mrs J Kightley, Miss M Brown, F Andrews, Mrs Bailey (Wolverton); pony rides, John Laughrey and Robin Winterbottom; marionettes, Ernest Elliott. Mrs Winterbottom had charge of the general stall.

The Committee were as follows: Mr N Goodridge (Chairman), Mr J Hebson (Secretary), Mr L Giles (Treasurer). Messrs A Loughrey, G Beasley, H Cummings, P Lyman, P Whiting, S Bushell, E Hillyer, F Tustain and C Harris.

The Rhythm Aces played selections during the afternoon under the conductorship of Mr Douglas Dytham.

Mr F Andrews, of Stony Stratford, handed in the large sum of over £28, raised from his three games.

Cosgrove Victory Hall

The Victory Hall was built on Bridge Road in Cosgrove, the work starting shortly after the Second World War in 1946. It was intended as a general meeting place and village amenity for local people, needed because the previous community building, the Old School, was no longer suitable.

The land used was donated by Captain P Y Atkinson of the Priory, who was known for his philanthropic attitude towards the village and its people. The project was seen as a phoenix project reconstructing peaceful village life after the Second World War. It was built largely through voluntary labour by the people of Cosgrove.

A Committee was formed to manage the Hall which was opened in 1948.

The first Village Hall committee at Cosgrove, 1948. The ground for the hall was given by Capt. P.Y. Atkinson of the Priory.
Back row, left to right: Arthur Loughrey, George Hickford, Bob Gallop, Dick Lavington, Fred Tustain, Tom Kightley.
Front row: Harry Cummings, Reg Whiting, Frank Hillier, Jack Hebson, Joe Janes, Olive Johnson, Jack Johnson.

The following article recalling the Victory Hall appeared in the Old Mail in 1988:

“On Saturday July 30th 1949 the Victory Hall was officially opened, amid great celebrations. Present at the opening were Sir Reginald Manningham-Buller, MP for the area, and his wife, Captain Atkinson of The Priory, who had given the land, Major Hesketh, the Hall president, and of course, the Hall Committee (Chairman Mr Hillyer) and many of the villagers.

A party for the children of the village of Cosgrove at the opening of the first Village Hall, c.1949.
Aren't they spellbound watching the magic lantern show!

The rear of the group includes Jim Holman, Dolly Williams, Mrs Nora Horton, Vera Stewart, Susan Coles, Tony Lavington, Sylvia Wickham, Louie Gascoigne, Jessie Stewart, Sheila Brown, Rosemary Hebson. The front includes Jo Hebson, Ivor Hickford, Carol Prater, Pauline Bushell, Julie Longman, Jill Tustain, Jill Hebson, Sue Tustain and June Smith.

All the children sat down to a tea party organised by Mrs O Johnson and helpers, and this was followed by a film show, concert, and dancing.

The Union Jack was flown from the Hall roof. The Victory Hall was built as a “temporary” structure whilst funds were raised for a permanent building, for which planning permission was sought in 1948. Over the five years up to 1949 £1400 had been raised. The present Hall was funded by a 100% grant from the National Council of Social Services and rented to Cosgrove at 5/- (five shillings) per week.

It was built by Messrs Betts and Faulkner of Stony Stratford, aided by much voluntary labour including Mr Dick Lavington, Mr Joe Jones, Mr A Laughrey, Mr J Johnson, Mr J Hebson and Mr G Beasley. The first sod was turned by Mr and Mrs Winterbottom of Cosgrove Hall in January 1949. They had been active in the fundraising and had held a garden party at the Hall attended by Queen Geraldine of Albania, which raised £200.

Left to right: Jack Johnson, Howard Smith

Jack Hebson, Mr. & Mrs. Winterbottom, Sid Bushell, Robin Winterbottom (boy)

Mr. & Mrs. Winterbottom turning the first sod for the Victory Hall in January 1949.

How many faces do you recognise?

Old age pensioners in Cosrove Victory Hall, c.1940.

Back row, left to right: Sam Williams, ?, Bert Gascoine, ?, Bob Pettifer, Ernie Lambert, ?,.

Middle row: Mr. Hinton, Mrs Hinton, Mrs Valentine, Mr Valentine, Joe Castle, Mrs Castle, ?, Mrs Bushell.

Front row: Mrs Pettifer, Mrs Eglesfield snr, ?, Frank Hillyer, Mrs Hillyer, Mercy Clark, ?, Mrs Alderton, Mr Alderton.

A new Village Hall was needed by the late 1980s. It was planned to be built alongside the original Victory Hall, to enable the Victory Hall to continue in use whilst the new hall was built.

The Victory Hall before demolition.

Memories of the Victory Hall – Old Mail 1991

For over 41 years the Victory Hall served Cosgrove well. Two of the original cherry trees in front of the Victory Hall were planted in memory of Chris Whittaker, who lived in Bridge Road.

Wendy Maycock remembers her father helping to build brick steps in front of the hall and a wall along the road. There was also a flagpole on a dais. The bricks used for the wall and steps were damaged by frost and crumbled. After this the area was grassed. John Holman recalls digging holes in 1949 for the boundary fence posts.

Ted Lambert remembered that the Cosgrove Village produce Association dug the front garden and planted shrubs, annuals and the trees. They held annual flower shows with open and closed entries. There were lots of members, many using the allotments on the Colmwood House land. They bought seeds, etc., in bulk, including 20 trays of seed potatoes to supply local farmers. Weighouts were held at the Barge Inn run by the Eglesfield (spelling?) Family.

Mrs Kath Jones remembers Gran Bushell bought a butler’s cupboard from Cosgrove Hall and gave it, full of crocks. She also donated 10 wooden chairs with ATB on the back. Other people also gave chairs and cupboards and gradually built up the stocks needed for the Hall.

The Victory Hall was well used and Saturday night bookings in particular were at a premium. Weddings and parties, British legion Dinners, dances and dancing classes were held there. The dances would sometimes attract 200 people and were held regularly on Saturday nights to raise funds.

Music included Joe Lovesey’s Old Time Dance Band, the Rhythm Aces, Harold Battison and the Tommy Claridge Trio. Terry Carol from Yardley would play the organ.

Old Time Classes were given by Mr and Mrs Gibbs and the Lovells from Yardley would hold dances with records. Mrs Hebson remembers the “Cuckoo Waltz”.

Whist Drives were held on Mondays, Domino Evenings on Thursdays and at one time Tom Bushell used to run a film show on Friday nights. The Harvest Festival Auction was held annually in the Hall and run by Jack Johnson. Later, the Vicar was the auctioneer.

Mrs Hebson remembers rehearsing with the WI choir in the Hall with Mrs Magnus (Dorah Clarke’s mother), and can still render “All in an April Evening”. Plays were also performed.

A Football Club flourished, playing on the filed behind the Hall and using the Hall showers (luxury) and changing rooms. Mr Longman remembers playing in goal in the Towcester League matches.

The original Committee consisted of Frank Hillyer, Arthur Loughrey, George Hickford, Bob Gallup, Dick Lavington, Fred Tustain, Tom Kightley, Harry Cummings, Reg Whiting, Jack Hebson, Joe Jones and Olive and Jack Johnson.

Lots of work went into the Hall but a lot of fun has been had over the years. I did hear one tale of folks having to be transported home in wheelbarrows and look-outs being sent over the Bridge first!

THE VICTORY HALL 1949 - 1991

On Saturday, July 30th, 1949, the Victory Hall, Cosgrove was officially opened amid great celebrations.

At the opening were Sir Reginald Manning-Buller, M.P. Captain Atkinson of the Priory, who had given the land, Major Hesketh, the Hall a, the Hall Committee (chairman Mr Hillyer) and many of the villagers.

All the children sat down to a tea-party organised by Mrs O. Johnson and helpers, followed by a film-show, concert and dancing. The Union Jack was flown from the Hall Roof.

The Hall was built as a temporary structure whilst funds were raised for a more permanent building, for which planning permission had been sought in 1948. Over the 5 years up to 1949 £1400 had been raised.

It was funded by a 100% grant from the National Council of Social Services and rented to Cosgrove at 5/- a wk.

The builders were Messrs Betts & Faulkner of Stony Stratford, aided by volunteer labourers including Mr Dick Lavington, Mr Joe Jones, Mr A Laughrey, Mr J. Johnson, Mr J. Hebson and Mr G. Beasley.

 The first sod was turned by Mr & Mrs Winterbottom of Cosgove in January 1949. They had been active in the fund raising and had held a garden party at the Hall attended by Queen Geraldine of Albania.

The Victory Hall served the village well for over 40 years until the spring of 1991.

The New Village Hall

A BBC Northampton Live Broadcast
24th May 1993

Bob Entwistle

The building of the new village hall is recorded from contemporaneous articles in the village newsletter – the Old Mail.

January 1st 1988

Old Mail May 1988

Planning permission for the replacement hall was applied for on 25th February and we are hopeful of securing a leading place in the queue for the available grants and obtaining planning permission in the near future.

The new Village Hall Committee has embarked on a further campaign of fundraising with a target of raising a further £15,000 prior to the commencement of construction of the new hall. A special Fabric Fund high interest account has been opened to ensure a good return on the monies raised.

The first fundraising event by the new Committee was a 1960s Disco held on March 26th. This saw the Village Hall (Victory Hall) filled to capacity. Jason Hart of Cosgrove ran the disco “Hart-Beat”. The evening was a great success and featured a “real” fish and chip supper.

This event was followed by the opening of Cosgrove Hall gardens on Easter Sunday, which together raised just over £450. Also local business people have recently kindly donated £650 to the fund for which we are very grateful.

Old Mail March 1990

At last the replacement Village Hall for Cosgrove looks like becoming a reality.

Verbal notification was received from South Northants District Council in December that formal approval of the 70% grant towards the building costs would be given in January. This formal notification has now been given and the working drawings are now being prepared, in anticipation of building tenders being invited in March.

It is hoped that the building works will commence on site in April. It is hoped that the new Hall, with its Badminton court will provide scope for the introduction of new village activities, together with being a community centre that the village can be proud of.

                                                                                                                            P M Sadler

Old Mail December 1990

A Contract was placed with Newport Pagnell Construction in early October for the construction of the new Village Hall and construction commenced on site on 15th October.

We are pleased to report that progress, as you can see, is currently to programme and it is hoped that the construction will be weathertight by Christmas and completion is scheduled for May 1991.

A number of fundraising activities are scheduled, the first of which will be a Christmas evening with Mulled Wine, Carols, Tombola, Raffle and Blue Peter Stall, on Wednesday 19th December at 7.30 pm.

                                                                                                Peter Sadler and Richard Thomas

Old Mail May 1991

Work has now started on the connection of drainage and water services as residents of lower Cosgrove can testify. This has involved traffic lights in Bridge Road and Main Street throughout most of April.

The Fundraising for tables and chairs has gone well, with £1940 currently raised.

The new Hall will officially be opened on Saturday 8th June, with a children’s Sports and Tea Party in the afternoon and a Barbeque and Disco in the evening.

Old Mail June 1991

The new Hall will be opening officially on June 8th at 3 pm by Mr H Wreschner, Chairman of South Northants District Council.

The sun almost broke through the clouds for the official opening of the New Village Hall on Saturday 8th June 1991. At least it didn’t rain whilst the speeches were made in front of the Hall.

Mr Richard Thomas, Chairman of the Management Committee, welcomed the following official guests:

Mr and Mrs H Wreschner, (Chairman of SNDC), Councillor Ford, Chairman of Community Services Committee, Mrs S Baker, District Councillor, Mr R Hall, Assistant Environmental Health and Housing Officer, Mr J Corbey, Architect, and Mr Deane and his staff from Newport Pagnell Construction, builders of the Hall.

Mr B Compton, Chairman of the Trustees, spoke, giving a brief history of the events during the past six years leading to the building of the new Hall. He gave thanks to all the organisations and people who had contributed to the fundraising.

Mr H Wreschner then officially opened the Village Hall by unveiling the sign on the front of the Hall and cutting the ribbon on the front door.

There then followed various activities, produce, tombola and raffle stalls in the Hall. Cream teas were served at a frantic pace, with much activity in the kitchen from Mrs Phyllis Holman and helpers. A beautiful cake, made by Mrs Brenda Clarke, modelled on the new Hall, was on display for its weight to be guessed (well done to three of our official guests who were nearest). The Cake was later cut by Mr Wreschner and slices put on sale. The “Porch” which was left over went to the Golden Hour Club on the following Thursday. The Cosgrove Cook Book was also on sale following several weeks of frantic editorial activity fro Gill Phillips and Katie Thomas to meet the deadline.

Children were entertained with fun races, pony rides with Wendy Maycock and Pirrjo Higson, and welly wanging. There were also indoor sports activities provided by Com-Sport in the Old Hall. There was much interest by villagers in the indoor sports activities, especially Short Mat Bowls. It is hoped that these activities will flourish in the New Hall. However, we do need people to run these activities with help from SNDC to help us get started.

The Woadworks Morris Dancers, who practise in the Village Hall, then performed some of their dances, before the rain returned and provided music in the Hall whilst the teas continued, contributing to the rural atmosphere.

The children then sat down to a Tea Party organised by Gill Phillips, thus finishing the afternoon’s activities. In the evening the celebrations continued with a Barbeque and Disco into the early hours.

Thus the New Village Hall was christened with a day of celebrations. Many thanks to the many, many helpers who made the day so enjoyable and raised £1500 towards Village Hall funds.

                                                                                                                                   Richard Thomas

The Village Hall story continued into the 21st century with this article in the Old Mail of November 2000.

It has been a long time in the planning, but soon we hope to be able to start work on more alterations to the Village Hall. We will be adding a new meeting room, which will be slightly bigger than the existing meeting room. The existing kitchen and meeting room will then be combined to provide a bigger kitchen.

Typically, for Cosgrove, by the following year this invitation appeared :