In ‘The Year of Jubilee of Queen Victoria’, 1887, a site ‘of land and dwelling house’, opposite what is now East Meon Stores, was conveyed by its owner Henry Coles to Reverend Charles Patten Good and two others, Jane Barnard and Benjamin Aylwin. These were the first Trustees of what was to be the ‘East Meon Reading Room, Library and Coffee House’ Charity, otherwise known as the Church Institute. It was a condition of its foundation that the Vicar be one of the Trustees; in fact, until after World War II, the Vicar was always the Chairman of the Management Committee.
As can be seen from the full title, still preserved on the plaque(above, right) in the foyer of today’s Village Hall, the Institute was an important hub for the social life of the village. In the days before radio or television and when most villagers never travelled beyond the parish boundary, the Institute had a games room with billiards table, a stage where plays and concerts were produced, a large room where dances were held every week, as well as the library, reading and coffee rooms.
Click here for more about The Institute, including a research report on the history of the Institute and the Village Hall.