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Old Marston Parish Council

Memorial Gardens

There are two memorial gardens in Old Marston, both belonging to St Nicholas Parish Church. One is situated on Oxford Road opposite the former Three Horseshoes pub. This used to be the site of the building that was know as the Reading Room, which fell into disrepair and was demolished in the 1960s. The other memorial garden is situated next to the parish church. Below are pictures from both.

Standing at the roadside, in the middle of the village it was used as a carpenter's workshop by the late Mr. J. Honour. After Mr. Honour's death in 1916 the building was first rented and then sold by Mrs Honour to the then Vicar, the Rev.J.H. Mortimer, who converted it into a Reading and Club Room for the men of the village. But it was not long before it was being used for all the village activities.

It was in the upper, or Reading Room as it was called, that-the newly formed W.I. held its first meeting in 1922 and where it continued to meet for the next seven years.

In 1929 Mrs Honour had the idea of converting the lower room, and offering it to the W.I. for their exclusive use – a .. suggestion which was very warmly approved by the members.

The war years brought change. By this time the Institute had moved across the road to the British Legion Hall and what had previously been their home became the overflow for the Village School. The Reading Room had not however, seen the last of the W*.I. In 1948 back they came, but this time to the upper room

which had seen their beginning.  They were now the tenants of the Church to which Mr Mortimer had given the building.

With the passage of time the Reading Room fell into disrepair and it was felt that the structure was not sound enough to justify any large amount being spent on repairs.  Yet village activities continued to take place there but only because at that time there was no other hall available.  At last the time came when the children moved to the new Primary School and the Reading Room was no longer considered safe for large gather­ings.

It was at this point that a member of the Church offered to buy the Reading Room - but on conditions.  The purchase money should be used to convert the old Village School into a much needed Church Hall.  The land on which the Reading Room had stood would then be given back to the Church to be converted into a Garden in memory of the late J.H.Mortimer who had, during his long incumbency, done so much for the village. This, however, left the Church with the not inconsiderable cost of demolition.  But Marston has never lacked benefactors.  Another member of the congregation offered to bear this cost. It was demolished in 1958/9  It was only left for a Committee of local gardening experts to be formed and a subscription list opened and the money was forthcoming for outlay and maintenance.

To-day Marston has its Church Hall, its Village Hall and an attractive little garden where once the old Reading Room stood.