Ruins to Restoration (1872 - 1908)
After the school vacated the top floor in 1872, Church House stood empty. Over the next 30 years there were arguments between the churchwardens and the Lords of the Manor as to who owned the building. In the circumstances no-one was prepared to pay for roof repairs. By 1907 the roof on the south side was open to the sky, and the Gallery floor had collapsed. It was now close to a ruin.
The Rev Henry Christian Young
In the meantime a new Rector had been appointed to the Parish in 1901. His name was Henry Christian Young. He saw the ruin that was Church House and was determined to do something about it. He first proved to the Charity Commission in 1906 that Church House was indeed owned by the community. He obtained Charity status for the building, and then set about the fundraising for restoration of the building.
Appointing the Architect
The Rector then appointed an architect, A Basil Cottam, and asked for an initial opinion and advice on the structural state of Church House. Mr Cottam's report was unequivocal: ‘..... It is extremely dilapidated and rapidly becoming ruinous. Prompt measures should be taken if it is to be saved from serious structural failure.’ The final cost turned out to be precisely the figure that Mr Cottam had forecast at the planning stage a year earlier: £550 - equivalent to £55,000 today.
A Village Hall Once More
Church House reopened as a village hall in 1908. At the Opening Ceremony, the Hon Mrs Trollope said that 'not in his wildest dreams could her ancestor, Godfrey de Crowcombe, ever have thought that the parish church house would be put to use in the 20th Century.’
A concert then merged into a village party - with dancing in the Gallery continuing into the small hours. Church House had regained its original function as village hall for the Crowcombe community - which it continues to the present day.
The next phase: Restoration to Present Day (1908 – Today).
- Somerset Heritage Centre D/P/Crow/8/3/1
- Somerset Heritage Centre D/P/Crow/8/3/2