World-class opera, ballet and drama on the bill at Thornham Village Hall

Inside the Cinema at Thornham Village Hall is Louise Howell. Picture: Ian Burt

Inside the Cinema at Thornham Village Hall is Louise Howell. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

A village hall can now bring you opera live from Covent Garden or Shakespearean tragedy direct from Stratford Upon Avon.

Richard Seppings tuning the satellite receiver inside the Cinema at Thornham Village Hall. Picture:

Richard Seppings tuning the satellite receiver inside the Cinema at Thornham Village Hall. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

A cinema-quality high definition projector and 12-speaker surround sound system has been installed at Thornham Village Hall.

The state-of-the art equipment was purchased with the help of a grant from the British Film Institute (BFI), along with donations from the Thornham United charity, Active at 60 and the Thornham Bagladies.

The official launch of the new equipment was held on Tuesday, February 28, with a performance of the opera Sleeping Beauty, live by satellite from London's Covent Garden.

Sam Staveley, from the village cinema team, said the cheapest unsold seat for the evening's performance in the capital was priced at £300. Members of the audience in Thornham were paying just £15.

Inside the Cinema at Thornham Village Hall. Picture: Ian Burt

Inside the Cinema at Thornham Village Hall. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt


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Mr Staveley added the new equipment would bring world-class opera, ballet and drama to the hall.

Since it opened in 2013 the village hall, on the A149 coast road, has gone from strength to strength and become the hub campaigners who raised the £650,000 needed to build it said it would.

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John Warham, chairman of trustees for Thornham Village Hall and playing fields, said: 'Since we opened four years ago, we've been getting more and more activities going on.

'A lot of our guests come from the surrounding villages. It's really nice, in that a lot of things we hoped might happen have happened. It's exceeded our expectations.'

The combination of audio and visual equipment gives Thornham Village Hall patrons the optimum cinema and theatre experience to match anything on offer in the region. Parking is free and a licensed bar and ice creams are also on offer to patrons.

While cinemas have declined in Norwich and a handful of market towns, Norfolk now boasts more than 60 village screens, which operate in halls and other far-flung rural venues.

A British Film Institute spokesman said the £2,937 grant it made towards the equipment came from a fund set up to encourage community cinemas to flourish.

'It's a way to enable film to get to parts of the country which are under-served with cinema to give people a way to go and enjoy seeing a film,' she said.

About Thornham Village Cinema

Thornham Village Cinema was formed in January 2011 and its first film was screened three months later at the old Drill Hall, which at that time served as the village hall.

In September 2013, it moved to the newly completed Thornham Village Hall with an upgraded projection system. In addition to cinema, it could offer live satellite broadcasts from Covent Garden, Glyndebourne, the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-Upon-Avon and London's Garrick Theatre. Since 2011, it has welcomed an audience total of 6,752.

The cinema team are Chris and Sue Burland, Sam and Anne Staveley, Richard and Pauline Seppings, Liz Atkins and Roger Green. The satellite team are Chris Burland, Tony and Angela Morris, Richard Seppings, Clive and Alison Wakes-Miller. It has been funded by Thornham United Charities, Active at 60, Thornham Bagladies and the British Film Institute.

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