Architect: Jim Bond
Sitting a 10-minute walk from the award-winning Cromer beach on the north Norfolk coast, the Lecture Hall is a 1,100 sq ft, two-bedroom converted from a 19th century building with a rich history by the architect Jim Bond. A low maintenance, cleanly styled and adaptable interior make the Hall an ideal holiday rental or weekend seaside retreat.
Occupying the front portion of the original building, the Lecture Hall has a fantastically light and airy interior. An entrance hall opens out into a combined living / kitchen / dining area with mezzanine bedroom / bathroom level above. A freestanding kitchen sits under this mezzanine. Original parquet flooring runs throughout the ground floor space. Skylights in the exposed pitched roof allow plentiful amounts of natural light to wash the rooms below.
From the hallway, stairs lead up to the mezzanine containing two semi-private sleeping areas set either side of a landing / study with great views into the living space below and out through the skylights above. A good sized bathroom with porthole window sits above the entrance hallway. All internal walls are painted timber.
Of particular interest is the projection room for an optical or ‘magical’ lantern built over the porch of the property. The magic lantern was at the height of its popularity in the 1880s and 1890s and was the forerunner to film and the cinema (the invention of film would come in 1895). Talks and shows using the lantern were very well attended and The Band of Hope nationally made great use of lantern slides as a means of education. For a building to be constructed with a projection room and large screen painted directly onto the wall made the Lecture Hall a rare type of building.
The building was originally commissioned by the Cromer branch of the Band of Hope Temperance movement and opened on the 10th June 1891 (a plaque above the front doors announce the name of the building and date completed), serving as a Lecture Hall to educate the local population to take a more controlled attitude to alcohol consumption. The initial conversion (completed in 2001 by architect Jim Bond), originally provided a studio and open plan house for contemporary artist Vanda Harvey.
The Lecture Hall sits on a quiet residential street tucked behind the town centre, close to both the station, shops and restaurants. Famous for its eponymous crab, by the 1880s Cromer had become a fashionable attraction for the Victorians and then Edwardians and retains much of this old world charm, particularly visible in a string of grand hotels along the seafront and a magnificent pier. Cromer offers summer concerts and shows on the pier and a host of food, culture and arts festivals throughout the year. It has two blue flag beaches (beach huts can be hired either weekly or longer for residents), and the award winning North Norfolk coast path passes through the area, providing easy access to a great scenic walks.
The Norfolk Broads are close by and accessible by bus or train, whilst the Coasthopper bus service makes it easy to explore North Norfolk generally. During the months of March to October there are several historic homes to visit, including Sandringham, Norfolk Estate of the Queen, and National Trust properties at Blickling & Felbrigg. The Holkham Estate, with its stunning beach, wildlife reserve and magnificent house and grounds, is within easy reach by car.
Cromer has a good selection of galleries and an independent cinema; a golf course and tennis courts are five minutes away. There are primary and secondary schools locally and private education is offered at Gresham’s public school in nearby Holt as well as Beeston Hall preparatory school which is only about 2 minutes along the coast towards Sheringham.
Trains to London Liverpool Street and Kings Cross run every hour and take just under 3 hours (via Norwich, 40-minutes from Cromer station) and the A11 is accessible by car in around 50 minutes.
Please note that all areas, measurements and distances given in these particulars are approximate and rounded. The text, photographs and floor plans are for general guidance only. The Modern House has not tested any services, appliances or specific fittings — prospective purchasers are advised to inspect the property themselves. All fixtures, fittings and furniture not specifically itemised within these particulars are deemed removable by the vendor.
The Band of Hope, both nationally and locally in Cromer, dates back to Victorian times. One of the principal causes of poverty in the second half of the 19th century was alcohol. It would not be uncommon for a man to collect his wages at the end of the week, and to have spent most, if not all, at the local pub before reaching home. Societies were set up, particularly by elders of the Methodist Church, to try and educate people to take a more controlled attitude to drinking alcohol, and to help them make a commitment or pledge not to abstain from alcohol at entirely. These societies played a very important part the in development of education throughout the 19th and into the 20th century, providing public lectures, weekly semi-religious meetings and offering clubs and activities, particularly for the younger population.
It was proposed that a special temperance group to be set up for children under the age of 16. Its aims would be to teach them about Christianity and also the problems associated with drinking and to encourage them to live a healthy, alcohol-free lifestyle. In November 1847 the first meeting of this group took place in Leeds. About 300 children attended, 200 of whom ‘signed the pledge’ for the first time, the rest having already done so. The group became known as the ‘Band of Hope’.
The pledge of the Leeds Temperance Band of Hope was ‘I, the undersigned, do agree that I will not use intoxicating liquors as a beverage’. At around the same time other groups were starting the same kind of children’s clubs and many of them took the name ‘Band of Hope’, together becoming the Band of Hope movement. The clubs grew rapidly and by 1887 had about 1½ million members out of 8 million young people in Britain under 16 years old.
The Cromer branch of the Band of Hope was active by 1880. An old farm house not far from the current hall on Mount Street was turned into Temperance hotel, with a small ‘lecture’ hall attached. The Temperance Hotel was provided by the Cromer Coffee Tavern, Reading Room and Public Hall Co. Ltd. This in turn led to the idea of coffee bars being an alternative to public houses.
The Temperance Hotel was given up in 1891, and the Cromer Band of Hope therefore decided to build its own hall in Cross Street as a base to continue its work. The Lecture Hall as it was named, describing its principal use, was opened on 10th June 1891. A document of that says it was ‘well lighted and ventilated, and in every’ way was admirably adapted for the purpose for which it has been built’. As well as being home for the Band of Hope, it was used for many other public meetings. The one specific restriction was that alcoholic drink could not be served on the premises.
Magic Lantern Shows
The magic lantern was at the height of its popularity in the 1880s and 1890s. Film and the cinema would not arrive until 1895 – and talks and entertainment’s using the lantern were very well attended. The Band of Hope nationally made great use of the lantern slides as a means of education. For a Hall to be built with a projection room, and with a very large screen painted directly onto the wall made the. Lecture Hall a rare type of building. Other halls were adapted, such as the addition of the lantern platform at Cromer Parish Hall, but the Lecture Hall was purpose built.
The Hall was equipped with single, double and triple lanterns, providing high quality shows. Mr Alfred Salter, Cromer’s school teacher, built up a large collection of slides of national and local interest. Working with Mr Robert Randall, he had built up a collection of about 40 slides of Cromer’s history by the early 1880s and continued to add to it, giving his final show shortly after the First World War. By then the Cromer talk consisted of 141 slides.