In the early 1800’s the buildings, now our village hall, were built as barns attached to Beehives, once one of the village’s ancient farms and now cottages. Its’ acreage included the field behind them – “barn field”. The larger of the barns was where corn was threshed by farm workers during the winter months and stored. Its’ high doors allowed wagons piled high with corn to pass through. The smaller barn was used for cattle. Their walls have local flints and their roofs were originally thatched. Eventually owned by the Warren family of Preston Hall, the larger barn was fitted out in the 1920’s as a gymnasium and badminton court by Reginald Warren, with the adjacent “Fives Court” area for ball games. Later, his widow converted the smaller barn into a rifle range, this event being commemorated on the plaque on the wall behind the playground.
In 1943, under the bequest of the Reverend Warren, the buildings and field, now a recreation ground, passed to the Village for recreational purposes. The ensuing years saw activities such as furniture auctions, being held in them but it was 1981 which was a landmark year in their history. The smaller barn was converted into a village hall and named the Warren Room, which was opened that year. This momentous event is recorded on the plaque by its’ entrance. A few years later the large barn was converted and named the Miller Barn, the name of the Council’s chairman at that time.
Managed and run by a team of volunteers under the charitable institution known as “East Preston & Kingston Village Hall Foundation”, the village hall is at the centre of the local community. All sorts of social activities take place within its’ walls throughout the year.
A legacy of the village’s farming past, these old buildings have survived to take on a new role. Indeed some new village halls in the locality have been designed to look like old threshing barns. Here in East Preston we are lucky to have an authentic building and one that has its’ own special character which we can all enjoy.