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St Martin’s Hall
St Martin's Hall has for more than 80 years provided Bletchley
with a popular venue for community events and exhibitions.

Sunday Citizen September 3, 2000

As implied by the name, St Martin's Hall has associations Saint Martin's, the parish church of Fenny Stratford, founded in 1724 by the then lord of the manor Browne Willis.

The dedication commemorates his grandfather Thomas, a noted physician who died on November11 Saint Martin's Day, in the parish of Saint Martin's-in-the- Fields, London.

Known as the Saint Martin's Soldier Institute, during the First World War a 'hut' was employed for the use of the many soldiers, billeted around the immediate district, and after the war the local Co-op applied to buy this as a temporary branch shop to be erected on a site that they owned in Victoria Road.

Then in May 1919, came the decision to build a permanent social centre and hall on a site in Vicarage Paddock. Fifteen voted for the name Saint Martin’s Hall and 12 for Saint House and during August plans were duly submitted to the council for building the proposed 'Saint Martin's Hall and Social Centre' at the lower end of the paddock, on a site adjoining the Council Schools.

Later in that month a fete and gala, held in the Vicarage Paddock, raised £205. 1s the building costs and expenditures of £82.9s.6d,this raised the accumulated fund of £510.

Real progress was being made by April,1920 and although it had not been possible to secure the large entertainment hut put up for sale at the Royal Engineers depot, Staple Hall, a larger hut 'at a smaller price' was obtained from Rugely, Staffordhire.

For the while this would then suffice as a temporary measure, until funds, now amounting to £929, allowed for the construction of a permanent building.

Entertainments were held for the raising of funds and on one occasion even featured an imitation jazz band! By July a small hut had been erected as the caretaker's quarters and the larger hut, the hall, now lying in sections, would also be shortly assembled.

Indeed, by November the 'Church Army Social Centre' at last neared completion and included the provision of a reading room and a billiard club with full size tables.

Captain Sturdy, of the local Church Army, had responsibility both for the building and of those who used it and he moved into the caretaker's quarters with his family.

The first event to be held in the new 'Saint Martin's Hall and Social Centre' was a New Year's parochial gathering and as for the final financial costs, these had totalled £3,488 which left an overdraft of £1,457. Such was the popularity of the hall that the premises had already been in use for nearly two months, before the Bishop of Buckingham per-formed the official opening cere¬mony, on the last Saturday of April, 1921.

Additional to the main buildings, accommodated by a separate entrance, the premises also included a brick built room, which served as the Fenny Stratford Parish Room, or Church Council Chamber. Previous to this, parish gatherings had to be held in either the parish room of the Vicarage or the Saint Martin's Mission Room, in Bletchley Road. Today, much extended and modernised, Saint Martin's Hall still remains, fulfilling an important role in the community activities.