Eastergate Village Hall, Community, Murals, Coffee Morning, Cinema, Film Nights, Party, Wedding, hire the hall, local groups, circuit training, yoga, craft fairs
Unlike most other villages, Eastergate gained its Parish Hall as a result of fears that war was imminent, rather than because of a demand for a local meeting place. In the spring of 1907, seven years before the start of the First World War, there was already a widespread feeling of unease that the country might be drawn into a new conflict.
Locally, the secretary of the County of Sussex Rifle Association wrote a letter to the Chichester Observer and West Sussex Recorder newspaper appealing for all the towns and villages in the district to set up rifle clubs where men could learn how to use a rifle, so they would be ready to serve their country if needed. Mr Alfred Day, the wealthy horse-trainer from Fontwell and Reverend William Yoward, the Rector of Eastergate, decided to call a meeting to discuss establishing a rifle club in the villages.
More than 100 people attended the meeting, including representatives from the parishes of Aldingbourne, Barnham, Boxgrove, Eartham, Eastergate, Slindon, Walberton, Yapton and Shripney. Mr Day told everyone that a plot of land in Eastergate would be chosen for the new rifle range and headquarters, because the village was the most central point in the district. Reverend Yoward announced that he and his friends would pay for the cost of constructing the building because it was not practical for all the parishes to have joint ownership of it.
When the hall opened, on 31st October 1908, it was announced that the £2,000 it had cost to build had been paid by Reverend Yoward, Mr Day and Captain Orr Ewing of Aldingbourne House, Aldingbourne. It was possibly the elaborate plans to decorate the inside of the building with painted panels of historic local scenes that caused the delay in holding the opening ceremony. After the opening, all the panels were completed and guidebooks often refer to the hall as one of the finest in Sussex. Having reached its centenary, Eastergate’s hall is still at the centre of parish life today, although the side aisles have long ceased to be used for rifle practice.
The hall is now a charity, run by a committee consisting of representatives of the hall users and of the Eastergate Parish Council. It is used for many different functions (but not for rifle practice!), including pantomime, wedding receptions, badminton and a playgroup. The hall consists of a large hall area and a separate small committee room, which may be booked separately, and is ideal for club use. It has recently undergone many improvements, including a new wooden floor.