Search for relatives of hall founder
SOHAM S Community Hall Trust group is on a quest to find the descendants of the St Andrew s Hall s founder in a last-ditch bid to save the building for the community. John Cyprian Rust, vicar of St Andrews for 53 years in the early part of the 20th centu
SOHAM'S Community Hall Trust group is on a quest to find the descendants of the St Andrew's Hall's founder in a last-ditch bid to save the building for the community.
John Cyprian Rust, vicar of St Andrews for 53 years in the early part of the 20th century, set aside land for the hall, which he donated in trust to church authorities. People of Soham then each paid for a brick and the community hall took shape years later.
Recently, the hall has fallen into disrepair, which protesters have been unhappy about.
But Tim Alban Jones, vicar of St Andrew's, defended the decision to sell and said the hall had been under-used for the past 20 years and was nearly sold 10 years ago. "We've had three lots of solicitors looking at the deeds and if there were any doubt about the church's ownership of the land then I think they would have found it.
"We've never said that the church does not deserve to raise money for its roof," said community hall trustee Liz Jugg, "but we've spoken to the diocesan office and they told us you have to replace like-for-like. So the church is telling us that if they don't sell off the hall, their roof will fall down, but the diocese are telling us that if they sell off a community hall then they have to spend the money on another one."
St Andrew's Church has been refused planning permission to build a hall next to the grounds but has plans to adapt the area at the back of the church to accommodate leisure facilities.
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St Ives-based company Amber Homes has already put a deposit on church hall land and Mr Alban Jones says the sale is now watertight: "My hands are tied. I am legally bound to sell the land to the highest bidder."
However, trustees are still hoping to raise enough money to use the hall again. "People write us off as nostalgics, said trustee Tim Webb, because we've done a lot of research into the place and a lot of us were brought up here. There used to be discos in that hall for example. But all the kids in Soham are going into Cambridge and Newmarket because there's nothing for them here. We want to give them a place where they can put on their own dos, without having to go into a church building."
If the land goes undeveloped, the Community Hall Trust hope the district council would be willing to lease the land around the hall as a car park, which could potentially hold 60 vehicles in the centre of Soham. The funds generated could then be used to refurbish the hall itself.
- Did a member of your family donate a brick? Do you know a Cyprian Rust or would you like to pledge your support to the Community Hall Trust? Email Julie Webb at firstname.lastname@example.org