Rockbeare Village Hall was built in 1925 by Lt Colonel Follett, then Lord Mayor of Rockbeare. The village hall and associated playing field play an important part in village life in Rockbeare through hosting a number of fundraising events and being available for use within the community. The subsequent effect is a more united community that sees the village hall as a focal point for social interaction within the village.
In recent years the hall has undergone re-development to provide a platform for increased use and to secure the future of the hall in the longer term.
In January 2009 the village hall under went a significant external renovation process that involved:
- Roof repairs and re-tiling;
- Replacement of four large windows;
- Repairs to other windows;
- Replacement of guttering and downpipes; and
- External re-decoration.
Since then, the village hall under went extensive internal renovation that included:
- Replacement of the kitchen;
- Replacement of the flooring; and
In January 2015 the final element of internal redecoration was completed through the procurement of new tables and chairs with funding provided by the Big Lottery.
The Queen’s Jubilee
AT ROCKBEARE MANOR, ENGLAND
Interesting Description of a Country Festival by Mrs. Thomas F. James.
Editor Cambridge Tribune: Your readers will no doubt see many accounts of the Queen's Jubilee in London, but American papers will have little to say about the
manner in which the day was celebrated in the remote villages and hamlets of England. I think, therefore, I need make no apology to my former fellow-townsmen, for sending to The Tribune the following brief sketch of the festival held at Rockbeare Manor In the beautiful county of Devon, where I now live.
Our parish of Rockbeare, seven miles from Exeter, like most of those In this agricultural district, is a scattered one, with a population of between four and five hundred. The gray ivy-mantled tower of the church keeps watch and ward over a cluster of thatched cottages. Rockbeare Court, the only other gentlemanʼs place in the parish, is separated from the church-yard by a laurel hedge. More than a mile from the church, and nearly in the centre of the parish, stands Rockbeare Manor House, now my English home.
Beyond the sloping lawns and green woods that surround it, stretch out farms, where the delicious butter and famous Devonshire cream are made for the Exeter market. This latter delicacy is said to have been introduced into the south of England by Phœnicians when they came hither in search of tin.
A few weeks before the jubilee a meeting of the parishioners was held, and subscriptions made towards the object. It was decided that If money enough could be raised, all the men and women should have a meat dinner, and the children a tea. I offered the grounds of Rockbeare House for the feast. The indispensable part of the programme was a brass band, and as that could not be obtained for Tuesday, June 21, we did what many of our neighbors were obliged to do, fixed on another day in the jubilee week for the feast, which came off most successfully on Thursday, June 23.
From Monday morning our house was the scene of great activity: fires were lighted in the two huge ranges that fill up one end of tile large stone-floored kitchen; at noon the butcher brought two hundred and sixteen pounds of meat into the flagged larder, on the long table of which part of it was quickly prepared for cooking, the rest waiting for the next day. Americans who are satisfied at their out-of-doors entertainments with sandwiches, ices, fruit and lemonade, can hardly realize the work involved in preparing the national dinner of roast beef and plum pudding for John Bullʼs hearty appetite. One hundred and seventy-five pounds of pudding were made at the vicarage, and boiled there during a whole day before the feast; they were on Thursday brought to Rockbeare House, where they were boiled three hours longer so that they might be served hot. These puddings, each weighing seven pounds, were rich with fruit, all the raisins having been stoned, and were pronounced excellent.
A shady place near the house was selected for the tables, which were covered with white paper. At one a hundred and twenty could be seated. Down this long board were arranged bouquets of flowers in vases, and between each dishes of salad made of cucumbers and lettuce from our farmers. At every plate a battle of ale was placed, which could be exchanged for cider or ginger beer. The joints of meat were ranged down the table, which presented a gay appearance.
Service was appointed to be held at the church at two oʼclock—the· Archbishop of Canterbury having set forth "A form of Thanksgiving and Prayer upon the completion of fifty years of Her Majesty’s Reign;" also a hymnal of jubilee hymns to be sung on the occasion. Our vicar being ill, the Rev. Prebendary Acland, sub dean of Exeter, officiated. The people had been arriving from the remote parts of the parish for an hour before the procession from the church, headed by the band, entered the lodge gates. It was marshalled by one of the head men of the village, and marched up the long avenue with numerous flags flying. An English and an American flag were borne in advance, the Stars and Stripes having the precedence. They stopped In front of the portico, where the band played "God Save the Queen" and the children dispersed among the trees, and seated themselves on grassy banks while their elders, both men and women, sat down to the festive board.
It took some time to arrange the company, but when all were seated, the sub dean, at the head of the longest table, said grace, and than ten stalwart farmers began to carve the joints. There were many helpers to wait on the people, as the ladies from Rockbeare Court and our own family and visitors assisted the farmers' wives and daughters in filling the plates for the hungry mouths, and no one was stinted, many sending up a plate for a second or third helping. When the meat course had been sufficiently discussed, the hot plum puddings were brought in, and were greatly appreciated. More than an hour's time was consumed in eating, when Mr. Acland returned thanks, and the farmers and helpers sat down to a smaller table spread close by.
The reverend gentleman, mounting a chair, proposed the health of the Queen, commenting on her long and happy reign and on the love of her people for her, on the interest felt in this jubilee by all other nations, illustrating it by the fact that an American lady had thrown open her beautiful grounds for this festival; he wanted the company to let her hear what a real English cheer was, and the hip, hip, hurrah, was given with a will. Next he remarked that the horrors of war had not come to England during Her Majesty's reign, and how important it was that peace should be preserved with our kin beyond the sea. He therefore proposed the health of the President of the United States, which was responded to with three hearty hurrahs. After speaking of the kindness of their hostess in doing so much to make the festival pass off well, and providing the parish will so beautiful a dining-room, with its cool and leafy canopy, he proposed the health of Mrs. James and that of her son and daughter. The cheers to this toast were given three times three, with even greater noise than those to the Queen or President, ending with a peculiar whistle, which we were told was the climax of a complimentary cheer. This toast was most unexpected, but very gratifying, as all of us, servants included, had been busy for three days in preparing for the feast. The national anthem was than played and arrangements for the chiIdren's tea began. One hundred and sixty sat down to bread and butter, cakes, buns and cups of tea. Between four and five hundred people were fed. Dinners were sent to twenty persons who, from illness or infirmity, were unable to be present.
Long before the tables were cleared the sports began, in a field half way down the avenue. We had the course marked out with red flags, and Mr. Montgomery James devoted much time and attention to the arrangement and carrying out of the games—he and his sister giving forty-two shillings in prizes. There was a pony race, jumping and running for both men and boys, and an obstacle race which was very amusing, all sorts of obstructions being placed In the runner’s way.
Even before the sports were ended the young men and maidens danced on the tennis court to the enlivening music of the band, and I was surprised to see, instead of old fashioned contra dances and cotillons, the polka waltz danced as prettily as at the Cambridge assemblies. Among all the crowd there was no rude or bad behavior, though we had thought it necessary to have two policemen on the spot. Babies in arms and in perambulators were among the guests, and many aged people who had danced gaily fifty years ago on the occasion of the accession of the Maiden Queen, now, crippled and bowed, sat looking on. These rustics were all well dressed. I did not see one shabby-looking person among them. Many of the men wore roses in their button-holes and the children looked neat and clean.
But the long midsummer afternoon came to an end at last-the sun set at twenty minutes past eight, and the golden twilight continued until ten oʼclock. At nine the great bell on the roof of the kitchen rang, to gather the stragglers to the front of the house, where under the flag decked balcony "God Save the Queen" was again played by the band, many voices singing one verse of the hymn; gradually the crowd dispersed to their homes, leaving the occupants of Rockbeare House standing under the American and English flags quite worn out with the day's work.
Rev. Prebendary Acland, brother to the Right Hon. Sir Thomas Acland, belongs to an ancient family in this neighbourhood. His great uncle, Major Acland, and Lady Harriet Acland have some interest for Americans in connection with the battle of Saratoga in our Revolutionary war. See Lossing's history and Madame de RiedeseI's letters.
Information about Rockbeare Manor is on the English Heritage Website at: