The Hall and Surroundings
The building first appears on a map of 1774, when it was almost certainly a barn. It could have been built well before this date. It served as an agricultural building right up until 1935.
The map in question was an estate-map commissioned by the lay rector, James Wilkinson. It shows other out-buildings and a house.
In 1837 the Wilkinsons sold the estate to the Simeon family.
In 1932 when the Simeon estate was auctioned, “Rashley’s Field” (on which the building is situated) was withdrawn from the sale and bought by Mrs Way of Dodpits, on behalf of the church. A new vicarage was built in one corner, and various other buildings demolished – only the barn remained.
In 1935 Mrs Edith Kindersley of Hamstead Grange offered to fund the conversion of the barn to a “Church Room.” John Seely, a well-known architect, (later 2nd Lord Mottistone) was engaged. Shalfleet Hall is an unmistakable example of the “Arts and Crafts” style, which he also used when restoring Mottistone Manor.
By early in the 21st century the Hall was dilapidated and in need of repair and refurbishment. With grants from the West Wight Landscape Partnership and the Isle of Wight Economic Partnership, the Hall Group acted for Shalfleet PCC to complete in 2011 a renovation sympathetic to and worthy of the building’s setting and history, with the aim that the Hall should be used as a facility for the whole community. The current Hall Group comprises representatives from church and village, and seeks to manage both the Hall and the surrounding field appropriately, for the benefit of all.
The hall is remarkable not only for its age and character, but for its very significant setting.
The meadow in which it stands has been a farm meadow for centuries, probably grazed or cut for hay. Having escaped the use of artificial fertiliser, it is defined as Unimproved Grassland. It supports a high number of grasses and flowers which thrive in natural grassland, and a high species diversity. Since 1940, 97% of such areas in the UK have been agriculturally improved or lost. Our meadow, one of the few local areas of unimproved grassland outside Newtown National Nature Reserve, supports a rich variety of grasses and is an important habitat.
In line with the approved management of such areas, the spring meadow is cut annually for a hay crop in mid June, when most flowers have set seed.
The south-west corner, formerly part of the garden of the old vicarage, contains various fruit trees.
The copse beside Church Lane has a dense understorey. It is undisturbed for wildlife, and elms will regenerate there, with fallen timber piled to give shelter to insects, toads and small mammals.
There is a mown or strimmed path round the perimeter of the field to give access to the orchard and prevent trampling of the hay. Any seeds and plants that are introduced will be gathered from the meadow or hedgerows, ensuring they are native and appropriate to the locality.
Adjacent to the meadow are the burial ground and churchyard – both Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation – and, within the churchyard, the Grade 1 listed Norman Church of St Michael the Archangel. (The Hall and Meadow are not only within a Conservation Area, but also within the curtilage of the church.)