Mrs Howard Memorial Hall



Designed 1905/1906 by Parker and Unwin

Built on a variation of the "Butterfly" plan , fashionable at the beginning of the 20th century, this building is a smaller version of Ernest Wood's Church of Christ Scientist in Manchester. The building was the only public building in Letchworth and was used for all social events and meetings.

In 1907 it was extended on the northeast side to accommodate the Girls' Club .

Inside the building has massive timbers , with a clearly visible queen post roof. A large inglenook fireplace under a brick arch.

Built to commemorate the life and work "her indefatigable labours for the cause" , of Elizabeth Ann Bills of Nuneaton , the first Mrs Ebenezer Howard, who died suddenly in October 1904 at their home in Stamford Hill , shortly after the inauguration of the Garden City. She was buried in St. Mary's Churchyard , Letchworth.

Mother of Howard's four children , always an important influence on her husband, helping and encouraging him to spread his ideas for a Garden City.

She had wished there to be: "a hall which should be the centre for education , social intercourse and recreation".

After her death a committee made up of Mrs E O Fordham , Mrs H D Pearsall and Miss M E Nicholson set about raising the £1300 needed for construction, by organising a variety of fund raising events.

The Memorial Hall was opened 31 March 1906 with speeches , hymns and prayers.

It took some effort to raise the money from what was then a small community, bazaars, jumble sales and in 1907 performances of "Candida" by George Bernard Shaw (another enthusiast for the Garden City Movement) all helped raise money.

The hall catered to the varied interests of the new town and it was host at various times to:

The Garden City Dancing Club , William L Hare lecturing on Dante , a meeting addressed by Mrs Christobel Pankhurst , a dramatic reading of twelfth night by Otto Sallman in 1909 , a public protest meeting against a visit of the Czar to England to name only a few.

The Girls Club founded in 1907 was set up to provide " a place where the girls of Letchworth may meet for healthy recreation and have opportunities for companionship and education". In 1922 it had a membership of 120. It provided courses in dressmaking , cooking , first aid , singing , gymnastics , leather work and decorative arts. Social evenings , and in summer swimming classes once a week at Cloisters , and tennis at the Pix Road courts.

Clubs and societies using the hall in the early 1920's are to many to mention , but include: The Anti Vivisection Society , The Choral and Orchestral Society , the Debating Society , the Dramatic Society , the Football Club , the Good Templars , the Salvation Army , the Vegetarian Society , the Workmen's Club . In 1921 the hall was used as a Petty Sessional Court until the Court House next to The Police Station in the Broadway was opened in 1937. (They are presently being incorporated into the new Morrisons Supermarket)

The building housed the first Letchworth Parish Council Meetings, and then from 1919 until 1934 the Letchworth Urban District Council used the hall for many of its meetings.

In 1983 the building was still in use for meetings and a variety of youth and community oriented projects were based there.

These ceased and the building was left empty for a while, but then in 1998 renovation was begun. This very attractive building which, had been added to in the 1960's with the addition of a horribly out of character extension ( demolished in 1998 ) has now been restored and expanded more tastefully.



In 1998 with the prominent notice of the renovation plans

In 2006 showing the 1998 to 2006 renovations & extension prominently
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