We embarked in 2007 on a project to document the Hall’s history. This document will be updated as more information becomes available. A potted version is given below and a serialised version is featured in 2011 editions of local magazine The Local Vocal, while a full, illustrated, version can be downloaded here (updated 3.9.11). The trustees are also keeping a scrap book for posterity.
Any past press cuttings, letters, other documents, recollections or anecdotes about the Hall which visitors can make available to us would be much appreciated. Copies will be taken and originals returned if desired, please see our Contact us page.
Sompting Village Hall was built by Henry Peter Crofts, JP, DL, of Sompting Abbotts, in 1889 as reading and recreation rooms for the community. It was for many years known simply as the Reading Room, and later as the Parish Hall.
The building ousted some inveterate drunks from a run-down area, and instead provided a comfortable place, out of the weather and heated, where ordinary people could go to socialize or improve their education and chances in life without the temptation and expense of alcohol. Henry nominated six inhabitants of the Parish to preserve good order and the maintenance of proper rules.
Henry died in 1890. His widow, Ellen, added a boys’ room away from the main building.
In the early 1890s, entertainment featured heavily in goings on at “The Reading Room”, especially in the winter months. God Save the Queen was traditionally sung on completion.
In May 1941 the building suffered significant bomb damage to the roof, porch entrance, doors and glass, plus a burst water pipe. In 1949 electricity was installed, at a cost of £85.
In 1953 the Hall was gifted by Henry Crofts’ grandson, Major Guy Henry Tristram, Royal Artillery, to a charitable trust administered by local trustees. His vision was to put the facilities on a better footing so that the community might gain more benefit from them.
Modern sanitation was installed in 1957 at a cost of £610. In 1998 the trustees secured National Lottery funding of £31,564 for extensive repairs to the roof, floor and outbuildings. There was a further refurbishment in 2006, providing new toilets, a new oven and hob, fire-proof curtains and re-decoration (total cost £15,163).
The Hall’s current regular user bodies and other, occasional, users enjoy the Hall’s spacious and homely facilities for a fraction of the charge a commercial organisation would make. The Hall holds open days as part of the annual Sompting and Adur Festivals, several of the user groups putting on impressive displays, and in 2008 became the first community facility in West Sussex to receive a Hallmark award.