North Cadbury Village Hall & Cottage
North Cadbury was noted in the Doomsday Book of 1086 as “a large and wealthy place”. Sam Miller’s excellent book “From Parson’s Quarter to Purgatory” gives a reliable account of life in the Manor of North Cadbury from this early time up to the late 1980’s. There are no records of how many dwellings existed at that time but there must have been many and the hall Cottage is now considered to be the earliest remaining building of that period. The cottage has been awarded Grade 2* listing and is considered to be of great historic interest mainly because for a time it was thought to be the only example in Somerset of a building with a simple cruck truss. In other words the timbers (blades) rose from ground level to the roof apex. The original building is constructed from four of these crucks of which two are full cruck and two are jointed. The construction date for the original building is uncertain however tree ring dating carried out in 1997 has precisely given a tree felling date for the main trusses as 1343. (The jointed truss at the north end of the Cottage has a later date of 1441 suggesting that it may have been added later or was rebuilt). It is interesting to note that at this time the Manor of North Cadbury was in the hands of Isabel de Botreaux daughter of the Late John de Moels the fourth Baron de Moels, Lord of the Manor of North Cadbury and that Edward III was the King of England (the first king to use English as his chosen language) and the Hundred Years’ War has just begun (1337). The building is made from local stone roughly cut and squared, larger stone quoins and a thatched roof. If you carefully examine the lime mortar you can see traces of charcoal that was used to bind the mortar together. Inside the building are traces of cob walling and some wattle and daub partitions.The original medieval house runs in a N/S direction (along what is now the High Street) and had two rooms to the south, an open hall, cross passage way and two service rooms to the north. The doorway was a four centred arch and plain chamfers, now sadly bricked up but still visible from the road. The exposed roof timbers are heavily smoke blackened and two collars have been removed (or never used) such that the higher one has a lot of soot encrusted inside the mortise. The triangular space over the collar of the northern most truss shows very blackened wattle which may indicate that it was a smoke vent the truss being only daubed below the collar. Presumably there were no chimney stacks as such at that time. In the 16c the house was modernised to a higher standard than a yeoman’s house and a floor was inserted with stairs and a fireplace backing onto the cross passage. The service rooms to the north were floored at a later date. About this time the Manor of North Cadbury was in the hands of Sir Francis Hastings, 5th son of the 2nd Earl of Huntingdon and it was he who built Cadbury Court. Historically Henry VIII dies in 1547 and the Elizabethan age begins in 1558 after an unsettled period. In the late 17c a new wing was constructed to form a T across the south end of the original house. This is the section that now runs along Woolston Road. The Manor of North Cadbury changes hands many times during this period and we enter the period of Kings Charles I and II and Oliver Cromwell. An external chimneystack was added to the 17C wing that also has two apertures, now blocked, that may have been intended as windows. It is believed that the new fireplace had this external chimney tosave space in what was already a very narrow room. In the 19c a stable was added to the north end of the Cottage and modern dormer windows fitted into the thatched construction. In 1910 Cadbury Court was purchased by Major (later Sir Archibald) Langman and in 1935 a stairway and first floor entrance were added within the Cottage stable into what became the Parish Club Rooms. These club rooms were constructed through the generosity of Sir Archibald and Lady Langman to be used as a club house for men and boys from this parish and from South Cadbury. This club ran until the start of the Second World War when it closed and never reopened. Again Sam Miller’s book gives an interesting commentary on the inhabitants of the Hall Cottage during the 19C up to modern times and provides further background to the Village Hall and Reading Room.The Reading Room was built next to the Cottage and used to be the Village School. The original doorway still exists on Woolston Road but is now blocked off from the inside. When the new school was built in 1875 the old school room became the Reading Room and was used for village meetings. The Village Hall was built in 1930 by Sir Archibald and Lady Langman and is one of the finest in the County boasting a large stage with dressing rooms and even an orchestra pit and of course a kitchen and toilet. Dances were often held here. A bath house was added to the rear of the Reading Room with piped hot water from the village hall kitchen and this was used as the village public baths for some time. (Reportedly at 1p per bath). The Village Hall, the Reading Room, Cottage and Playing Area are now a Charity for the benefit of the inhabitants of North Cadbury. (A document from The Charity Commission itself dated 11th Feb 1985 refers to a conveyance dated 31st Oct 1938 and a Deed of Gift dated 9th Apr 1954.)
A special thank to provide this history and photographs to Mr Robin Russell, Chairman of the North Cadbury Village Hall Mangement Committee.