History of the Morrell Room
In the year 1898 Mr. Hebert Morrell, the then squire of Streatley, commissioned a Reading architect, Mr. W. Ravenscroft, to prepare plans for converting the old malthouse and buildings along Church Lane, Streatley, into a village club and residence.
During the summer of that year his plans were exhibited at the Royal Academy in London. A copy of the plans hangs in the Morrell Room and a newspaper clipping at the time tells us:
“these old buildings consisted of a malthouse and what was a tolerably good house, part of which has existed in all probability for some 250 years or more. Lately the house had been used for a laundry and the view which hung in the RA represented the buildings as altered and restored.”
Originally known as the “Reading Room”, it was capable of sub-division into three rooms by sliding screens. There was a fireplace at one end and it is thought the stage was erected soon after completion of the building. The room was used for plays and entertainment as well as general reading, including the newspaper, and it is believed the Morrell family established classes for adult reading there.
In 1945 the descendants of Mrs. Emily Alicia Morrell set up the charitable trust decreeing that in her memory the property was to be known as “The Morrell Room”. The Trust Deed was signed by Owen Bishop of Streatley Farm, Herbert Hamersley of Apple Garth, Streatley and Ernest Vignoles of Little Orchard, Streatley, and a Management Committee formed.
Today the Morrell Room continues to be used regularly by local clubs and societies such as the Parish Council, The Goring Gap Players, the Scouts as well as classes for ballet, keep fit, yoga and latin american dancing. The Streatley Art Exhibition has now been held there since 1976. The Morrell Room is also hired for family occasions such as birthday parties, wedding receptions, christening parties and general entertainment.
The hall itself is very special with its linenfold panelling and polished parquet floor. On the walls there are paintings of local scenes, old photographs of Streatley and its people, unusual Toll Boards showing “prices to be taken at Streatly (sic) Ferry” for crossing the river in the reign of George 1 in 1719, from one person to twenty sheep, to a loaded horse-drawn wagon or cart. There is also a set of handbells and a plaque with photographs of Mr. and Mrs. Morrell.
An interesting acquisition is the bell which hung at Streatley House and was used to summon outdoor staff each day.
Such treasures need looking after and it showed great far sightedness by Herbert Morrell that he had designed not only the hall, but a residence for a caretaker to live in the property and manage the bookings, cleaning and general use of the hall.
The hall general maintenance costs are met from monies received from letting the hall, from grants and bequests and from the annual christmas eve torch light procession organized by the Morrell Room Management Committee.
A further source of income is a much appreciated donation from Streatley Parish Council.
The residents of Streatley and the users of the Morrell Room value and appreciate this excellent facility which has been gifted to them.
Not many villages are so lucky.