Tracey Gray

The quaint brick and flint building has been a cornerstone of community life in its picturesque village for a century.

It was given as a lending library by the local “squire” in Edwardian times, and today plays host to events ranging from Pilates to art classes.

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The quaint brick and flint building has been a cornerstone of community life in its picturesque village for a century.

It was given as a lending library by the local “squire” in Edwardian times, and today plays host to events ranging from Pilates to art classes.

This weekend the village hall at Letheringsett near Holt marks its 100th anniversary on Saturday with a music hall style celebration.

As well as music played on a Honky-Tonk piano which was bought in 1935 by the Letheringsett Village Hall Trust which runs the hall, chairman of the trust Michael Brunson will also be reading from a minute book which dates right back to when the hall was first opened.

The hall, which can accommodate about 100 people, is tucked away just off the main Holt Road through the village, which is best-known for its working water mill next to the scenic River Glaven and its pub now run by a celebrity chef.

Behind its wooden picket fence, the hall has stood the test of time since it was first was given to the village by Sir Herbert Cozens-Hardy in 1910.

He served as Master of the Rolls, the second most senior judge in England and Wales, after the Lord Chief Justice.

Former ITN political editor Michael Brunson, who lives in the village, said: “Sir Herbert was a very eminent lawyer, but although he spent much of his time in London, he loved the village.

“His love for Letheringsett went back to his family roots as his family had lived in the village for more than 200 years.

“He just wanted to do something for the village, and because there was nowhere in the village to meet, he created the village hall.”

The hall, has survived extremely well over the years. It was built in a typical Edwardian style, with solid brickwork and it also has some of the original features, including two big fireplaces which are not in use anymore.

It also still has a set of bookcases which were originally donated in 1912 by Sir Herbert for the library, which is recorded in the official minute book and which charts the library opening times.

A major facelift in the 1960s saw the village hall gain toilets and a kitchen area on the side of the building.

Just recently, the central heating has been upgraded and the hall has been repainted.

Today the hall remains a focal point for the village's 200 residents, playing host to classes for art, dance and pilates as well as for private functions and for parish council meetings.

Mr Brunson said: “There are usually four or five events which we put on throughout the year. We have had some prestigious events in the past, including an evening with war correspondent Kate Adie.”

The Hardys, who later become the Cozens-Hardys, have had a long-standing connection with the village, having been there since the 1700s - and have played the role of supportive squires, helping the community by providing facilities.

In 1780, William Hardy purchased the Letheringsett Hall estate and Hagan's Brewery for £1,610. He turned the estate into majestic parkland with a massive improvement and tree-planting programme.

He also made some other changes, knocking down the public house in the village and building tunnels under the road, which are still there today, so he could get to his house and gardens.

Sir Herbert bought the village a fire engine from the London Fire Brigade in 1901. The family is also well-known through its newspaper connections, with Archibald Cozens-Hardy serving as editor of the EDP for 35 years including the first world war.

In 1992, after more than 200 years, much of the Cozens-Hardy estate, was bought by R G Carter.

Letheringsett Hall, which is currently a nursing home, three mixed farms, and some cottages, were included in the sale.

The only parts not bought by Carters were the village pub the King's Head, now run by TV chef Chris Coubrough, and the mill, which is last remaining watermill in Norfolk to produce flour.

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