History of the Hall

The following notes are taken from Roger Carter’s book “Simply Messing”, published in 1996, with additions by Geoff Jackson and Andrew Lucas.

Early years – Almshouse and Workhouse 1748 – 1836

The Village Hall, (a Grade 2 listed building) has been at the centre of village life for many years. It was originally built as an alms house in 1748 by Edward Luckyn of Messing Hall and consisted of four dwellings. The original building was rectangular and of handsome red brick with three street windows and one rear window, all set in elegant stone surrounds. There were two doors of similar design that have now been bricked up. On the front also are the coats of arms of the Chibborne and Luckyn families.

In 1799 the alms houses were converted to form a workhouse. The roof was raised by  five feet  and at the same time one rood of Magdalene Court, a piece of land adjacent to the hall, was let to the parish. This is now the children’s playground.

Village School 1836 – 1911

The workhouse remained in use until 1836 when it was no longer considered necessary. The building was converted into two cottages, one at each end, and two School Rooms in the centre, the upper part for girls and the lower for boys. In 1898 the Messing National school had places for more than one hundred children. the average attendance was about seventy and the headmistress of the day was Miss Potter.

In the 1870s one of the cottages, originally occupied by the headmaster, was converted to a post office and then it reverted to domestic use and is still a private home today.

The photo is believed to have been. taken around 1908. The school is on the left with the headmaster’s house. The buildings on the right are Vine Cottages, demolished in the 1960’s.

Village Hall 1911 – 2011

In 1911 the Board of Education, against the wishes of the village, decided that a new school should be built, and the vacant old school building was made available to the residents of Messing for use as a village hall.

In 1951 the Village Hall was transferred from Parish Council ownership to Messing Village Hall Trust and in 1956 the building was extended at the rear to its current dimensions and a kitchen and toilets added. Some of the original drawings for the extension are still in existence.

In 1972 The Old School House was sold to Frances Gladys Brooke. The Village Hall has retained the freehold of a small part of the garden for access, originally for the fire escape doors (bricked up during the 2011 refurbishment).

The aerial photo was taken from the church tower in October 2023.

The internal photo shows the hall just prior to refurbishment in 2011

In 1982 the building was given listed status. The listing includes both the Village Hall and The Old School House, even though they were in separate ownership at the time of listing. The following is extracted from the official listing at Historic England

Date first listed:- 27th January 1982


II Late C17 or early C18 school in red brick with red plain tile hipped roof. Two storeys. Four window range C19 pivot windows with glazing bars. One modern casement. Two modern casements at first floor. Dripmoulds for doors now blocked. Two heraldic plaques. Modern porch. C19 red brick stack. Modern extensions at rear.

Refurbishment and Extension 2011 – today

In 2011 the hall celebrated its centenary by adding another extension and undergoing an extensive refurbishment of the interior. The outdated kitchen and toilets were replaced, a plant room and store were added at the rear, and the meeting room was created out of two smaller rooms. The management committee used this opportunity to research ways of reducing the carbon footprint of the hall to as little as possible and an air source heat pump and solar panels were installed. The heat pump services the under-floor heating in the main hall, as well as conventional radiators in the meeting room, kitchen and toilets. The solar panels produce sufficient electricity that the feed-back tariff more than covers the electrical costs of the hall. We are proud of our innovative approach and the resulting reduction in our heating costs and beneficial effect on the environment.

The photos are from the official opening of the Hall.

In January 2015, the deteriorating fifty-eight-year-old roof was re-clad.  This was funded by Messing residents and grants from Essex Environment Trust and The Fowler Smith and Jones Trust without which it would not have been possible, and we also received valuable support and advice from the Rural Community Council of Essex (RCCE).

Maintenance at the Hall is always an ongoing item. During the Covid lockdown we were able to get the Hall and Meeting Room redecorated ready for the reopening, and other minor repairs have been carried out.

In 2023 the lighting in the main hall and the meeting room was replaced with LED units, the now obsolete intruder alarm was upgraded and the projector in the main hall was replaced with a modern unit.

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