The Priory Room



From the Bury Free Press 6th December 1902

The Opening Of A New Priory Room

‘Another splendid addition to the long list of Mr. John Martineau’s gifts to the parishioners of Walsham le Willows has just been completed with the erection of a new room for meetings in connection with the church. The building takes its name from the former name of the present Rectory and is situated on a piece of land belonging to the Rectory close to the highway.

It is of substantial character that marks Mr. Martineau’s work with foundations being 3 feet wide and 5 feet deep. It rises in 18-inch brickwork to the plinth and the remainder in 14-inch brick. The room is executed in an Elizabethan style with the upper portion being in massive English oak studwork infilled with herring boned brickwork. The roof is covered with best Brossley plain tiles. At various places round the building there are prettily designed carvings and words are cut into the cills with inscriptions such as ‘Suffer little children to come unto me’ and ‘Life has many shadows, but the sunshine makes them all’. At the south end is an inscription ‘This is the last building designed by Mr. Edward Henry Martineau, architect, 1824–1901.’

The room is ventilated with Boyle’s Patent Concealed Roof Ventilators. There is a verandah to the east with seats facing the vicarage and a red and buff quarrie floor. The bargeboards are ornamentally finished, the windows have iron casements with fittings of brass, and the doors and gate are fitted with gothic furniture. The interior walls are lined with match boarding to a height of 4 feet.

In a recess is an old fashioned portable dog stove and round the fireplace are tiles of nursery pictures. The room is capable of seating some 180 persons. The gift also includes a cottage pianoforte, 3 brass central draught 100 c. p. veritas hanging lamps, handsome curtains with poles and brackets, chairs and forms and a stage or platform that can be converted into tables when necessary. There is also an anti room and lavatory.

The opening of the room took place on Friday [probably 29th November 1902] with a short dedication and the psalm ‘Except the Lord build the house’. The vicar of Walsham, Mr A L Harrison, explained that the reason for the erection of the room was that he had seen the usefulness of such a room in a nearby parish. He had suggested an iron building to Mr. Martineau, but as all could see by the beautiful, substantial building before them, Mr. Martineau had ‘waved his wand’. On the following Saturday evening all the men who had been engaged in the erection of the Priory Room and their wives were invited to a supper given by the vicar and Mrs. Harrison. Mr. Harrison congratulated Mr. Harry Nunn and his men for the completion of such a capital room saying it was a great success for Walsham trades and industries. Mr. Martineau also thanked the men for their efforts and in return Mr. Nunn thanked the vicar for his good wishes and Mr. Martineau for the room that he hoped would be copied in other parishes. The meeting welcomed Doctor and Mrs. Poignand and Doctor Scott who had just moved to the village, and the evening was rounded off with songs from Mrs. Harrison, Mrs. Moore, Mr. J. Finch, Mr. Sodon, and Mr. Hubbard with recitations from Mr. W. H. Oxborrow.”

A ledger of the Martineau Estate gives dates, costs etc. of building work carried out in Walsham. Harry Nunn was paid £1195 for building the Vicarage Room. Oak used in the building was estimated at £150. Other expenses included the architect’s fee of £62 3s 8d and D N Smith’s payment of £15 for carving the ‘mottoes and leafage’. The chairs, piano, curtains, coalhouse, blinds and other materials and labour cost £78 10s 1d. Grand total £1500 13s 9d.

The 1817 Parish map shows a barn on the site where the Priory Room was built – perhaps the tithe barn.

Hall Images

Contact information

Hall Address:
The Causeway
Walsham le Willows
IP31 3AB


  • Kitchen
  • Accessible
  • Meeting Room