St Michael & All Angels is marking the 20th anniversary of its ‘new’ Parish Hall by inviting residents to share memories of family celebrations and other Hall highlights. It has published an illustrated history of the building online and the vicar, Fr Kevin Morris, will celebrate the anniversary at this Sunday’s Candlemas service.
The original Parish Hall was designed in 1884 and completed in 1887 as a central feature of Bedford Park, the first garden suburb (see drawing above). It fell into disrepair and was reopened in February 2001, after a £500,000 project to rebuild the gloomy Victorian hall as a community centre for the whole of Bedford Park. The capacity of the building was doubled by adding an extra floor, and this gave a boost to arts, education, social and charitity activities locally.
Fr Kevin Morris said: “Our mission as a church is to serve the wider community and foster a sense of togetherness, which Chiswick achieves through its arts festivals and other local ventures. Our Millennium project was to provide a community space to serve the parish and beyond – and the Hall has had a very positive impact on community life.”
In normal times, the Parish Hall is in constant use for a wide range of events, including concerts, talks, parties, wedding receptions, charity fundraisers, dance classes, meetings, craft fairs, and Pilates – as well as daily school bookings in termtime.
The money for rebuilding was raised entirely from the local community (a heritage lottery bid was turned down) through donations, events and loans secured on projected lettings. Major sums were raised from the Bedford Park Festival and fundraising Balls held at Chiswick Town Hall.
Torin Douglas, the director of the Chiswick Book Festival, said: “It was a brave and visionary project and without the ‘new’ Hall we would never have launched the Book Festival or expanded the Bedford Park Festival. It’s hard to remember how dilapidated the old Hall was – indeed, some users of the ‘new’ Hall didn’t even know the old one had only one floor.”
If you have enjoyed events in St Michael & All Angels Parish Hall, and would like them shared online, please email your memories and photos to Newsletter@smaaa.org.uk.