History

The history of the hall

The hall is a Victorian building dating from 1846 that until 1973 housed the village school, attended by children from Binfield Heath, Eye & Dunsden and what is now Caversham, part of Reading Borough.

When the school closed there was nowhere for the WI to meet.  The Mission Hall on the Green had been pulled down in 1951 forcing the football group to use the Black Boy pub, as the Oxford Diocese were hoping to sell the Green for housing.

The School had been gifted by the Palmers to what had become the Oxford Diocese, but once it ceased to be a school, it reverted to the donors or their successors.  The community was keen to retain the building and Parish Councillor Gilbert Craddock pursued the case with great diligence and when eventually contacted, the successors agreed to sell the School at half its market value.  Eye & Dunsden Parish Council bought it for £8,000 in 1977 and refurbished the near derelict hall at a cost in excess of £30,000.

 

In 1980 Dunsden was proud to open its first Village Hall.  in 1987 the daughters of Robert Phillimore gifted the land behind the Hall to the Parish Council.

In 2006 a request was made to Eye & Dunsden Parish Council proposing that half the land behind the hall be sold and the hall car park be extended with the proceeds.  The Parish Council agreed to this and Councillor Phillimore declared an interest in the land which was eventually exchanged for £21,800 and 0.6 acre of land behind the Green, where a community orchard has been established.  The hall’s car park was duly extended and the original car park tarmaced.

Wilfred Owen

Owen was a young poet who lived in Dunsden for much of his life, before, like many others, he was tragically killed in the first world war. Several of his poems were written in Dunsden and although many of his themes explored the war, much of his influence was taken from his upbringing here.
 
Owen has become a local hero of sorts, his poems are celebrated still today and the surrounding area attributes much of its culture to him. The Wilfred Owen trail is one of these such tributes, it explores the life of Owen and his works on a picturesque hike through Dunsden and the surrounding areas.

Poetry

Anthem for Doomed Youth

By Wilfred Owen
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
— Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

Arms and the Boy

By Wilfred Owen
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
— Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

The Wilfred Owen trail

this trail consists of many local landmarks around Dunsden and the surrounding area. The landmarks recount the powerful yet tragic story of Owens life whilst exploring the landscape of his childhood. The hall itself is one of these such landmarks which makes the trail a perfect activity for upcoming visit to Dunsden.

Wilfred Owen in Dunsden is an organisation that manages the trail and provides further information to help you plan your day.