The premises were built as a Friend’s Meeting House in 1692 in the garden of Yew Tree Cottage, whose owner, Miss Joan French, was a Quaker.
There is a stone plaque on the front of the building with an inscription in latin (unusual for a meeting house) – “Donus Hec Que Edificeret Anno Domini 1692” (This house was built in the year of our Lord 1692”). The three sets of initials on the plaque are of “TB” Timothy Burbelow, a prominent Quaker from Ayno, “RC” Richard Claridge, who was an Anglican clergyman who became a Quaker; and “JF” Joan French.
The number of Quakers in the village declined at the beginning of the 19th century and in 1816 closure of the Meeting House was discussed.
In 1832 the building was instead leased to the Methodists, presumably until 1875 when a Primitive Methodist Chapel was built in the High Street. The chapel was closed in 1939 and is now a private house.
In 1892 the Meeting house was “in a poor state of repair”, but a proposal to sell it was not accepted. Instead two men, Charles Gillett and Wilks Brown, offered to repair it at their own expense on the understanding that they could use it for temperance and mission meetings. This was accepted and the Meeting House re-opened for that purpose.
Quaker meetings continued on a fortnightly basis until 1911 and the building was sold in 1927 to Mr George Dyson of Buttermilk Stud, which is just outside the boundary of South Newington parish. Mr Dyson built a porch on the front of the building, a lean-to on the side to provide toilet and kitchen facilities. He also installed a sprung floor, which makes the hall particularly suitable for dancing.
In 1928, Mr Dyson handed the building over to the village by Trust Deed to three Trustees. A management committee was formed to deal with the day-to-day running of the hall. A social club was formed and the hall became the centre of the village from then on.
A study of the management committee minutes books from 1929 onwards shows that as a village hall the building has been well maintained; repaired and improved from the very beginning.”