Future of the Laurence Hall

St. Mary’s Church, Cholsey, Oxfordshire - A new Laurence Hall 2021

Our vision for Cholsey and why we are seeking funds for a new Hall

Our Hall was built nearly 100 years ago and has served the village of Cholsey as a low cost meeting place and young people’s venue since 1926. The last substantial update was in 1976 when a kitchen and toilet block was built. However, it urgently needs replacement with a new Hall that meets the needs of the next 100 years. Currently the walls are composed of 4”x2” studs with ship lap on the outside and a hard-internal surface and they are not insulated. The toilets do not have any disabled facilities and the roof covering to the main hall and side rooms is clad in asbestos cement slates that have degraded to the point where they are crumbling. The roof and suspended floor are also un-insulated.

The Hall is under the legal ownership of the Diocese as individual churches are not allowed to own property; however, it is administered by St. Mary’s Church as Trustees. Prior to Covid 19 over 91% of the lettings were to village clubs and organisations including Cholsey Silver Band (adult and junior sections), Girl Guides, and Brownies. The Hall is used, along with the enclosed gardens, to provide a low-cost venue for those organizations as well as families who want to hire it for birthday parties, weddings and celebrations. We want to keep it that way; however, we urgently need to renew the building. Over the last 4 years we have from our own funds renewed the kitchen and the Hall heating.

Cholsey village has doubled in size over the last 10 years and there is great demand for meeting places for the numerous societies that already abound in Cholsey let alone new ones. To meet that need, in addition to replacing the Hall with a pre-fabricated building that matches, in essence the existing floor plan and frontage, we wish to include in the new hall a separate meeting room/youth room.

Currently we have raised £183,000 towards a Contractor’s figure of £480,000 funds for this work (current quote 2021). In 2019 we applied to Cholsey Parish Council for SIL funding for assisting in the work; however, we were turned down as they cited that the hall is administered by St. Mary’s Church and they are not allowed under a 1896 Act of Parliament to give funds to religious organizations.

We have examined in detail two complete re-build options in order to meet the current and future needs of the hall. Both will substantially reduce the ongoing ‘carbon footprint’ through high levels of insulation and installation of air source heat pumps. The rebuild option selected meets all the requirements set by St. Mary’s Church, albeit with some reduction in size of rooms versus the alternative option, however it is £200,000 lower in cost. As an alternative to a rebuild we have examined in detail the refurbishment of the existing hall including upgrading the walls, roof and floor to reduce the carbon footprint. Although this option is cheaper it is unlikely to meet the needs of the village in the long-term.

We are actively pursuing all options and are seeking funds to help us achieve our aim of a renewed Hall or a new Hall to meet the needs of the village that remains as an affordable venue. We therefore welcome the opportunity to put forward our case for a grant.

Howard Gander - Hall Management Committee - August 2021

Fundraising for the new Laurence Hall

A member of the congregation has made a wide selection of handmade cards for sale to assist in raising funds for the new project. See the link here for purchasing the cards. Here are a couple of examples:



Page last updated: 7th October 2021 4:04 PM