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From their booklet of "Millennium Tapestries", 2000
The Amenities Society
1967-2000
Rushden Hall - saved by the Amenities Society (see below)

Rushden Amenities Society has been in existence since February 26, 1967 and was formed as a successor to a protest group campaigning to save Rushden Hall from demolition. Although you now see the Hall as an attractive building of a number of periods, from 15th to the 18th centuries, by the 1960's the Rushden Urban District Council had allowed parts of the building to deteriorate into an appalling state of disrepair, its future was the subject of a number of heated debates and reports, the accounts in the local paper make interesting reading not least because their leader writer for Talk of the Town, Mister Cobbler IV held some quite forthright opinions towards demolition. The RUDC considered both complete demolition or nearly complete restoration and various ideas in between though then as now, their main concern was the effect on the Rates.

Prior to this, following the release of the building by the War Department, Professor A. E. Richardson, RA, advised and directed some restoration to the roof and main structure in 1951-53, it has always been a regret that the John of Gaunt chimney on the north wing was lost at that period. At the same time a flat and tea room were provided and in 1959 two further flats were installed in the west wing and servants quarters.

Despite this partial use, the unallocated and unrestored parts of the building continued to decay and complaints from the Rushden Hall Pensioners, who met there weekly, caused local Councillors to view their responsibilities with more attention and conclude that urgent repairs were needed if the Hall was to survive.

Mr A. E. Roberts, ARIBA of Talbot, Brown, Panter & Partners prepared a Report in 1966 which formed the basis of the subsequent restoration. Estimated costs thought to be about £15,000. By 1967 the 'overhaul' plan was estimated at £23,500 but at a long and sometimes stormy debate the RUDC approved a total cost of £36,500 in January 1969.

Rushden Hall was officially opened, after its restoration, by Earl Spencer on the 3rd April 1971. Rushden Amenities Society has since that date held its meetings at the Hall and feels justified in responding to the wish of a Councillor of the time who said 'he hoped those who had shouted the loudest would seek to make sure the Hall was used extensively'. Mr. A. J. George was the earliest and most ardent campaigner and is still a Life Vice-President, assisted by the late Mrs. Jane Young, Miss Joy Brown (now Mrs. Joy Yorke) and husband John and Clive Wood. They are founder members who hope that you approve and appreciate the lovely old building so nearly lost to our town. As with all limestone buildings the appearance of the Hall changes with the light of day, from a sober grey to a glowing gold, picking out its gracefully curving gables and bow windows to good effect set as it is within its 32 acres of mature parkland. The restoration of the building was completed in 1986, when East Northamptonshire District Council decided to re-locate their Chief Executive at the Hall and to that end, completed the work started in 1969. The north wing was re-furbished, a new entrance installed on the site of the original rear entrance porch. At this time the fireplace to the 'lost' John of Gaunt chimney was discovered and is now displayed as the oldest architectural feature in the building.

Rushden Amenities Society arranges an Autumn/Winter programme of monthly meetings and three outings during the summer, we have been addressed by Mr. Alec Clifton-Taylor, Mr. Osborne Robinson and a wide variety of speakers on many subjects. We have hosted at our Annual Dinner, The Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire, The Bishop of Brixworth and Sir Peter Fry amongst others. Our meetings are limited to fifty persons by our venue.

Our project for the Millennium Tapestries was proposed in 1999 and has at last come to fruition after countless hours of work, from the design to the the last stitch and framing. It is not inappropriate that this booklet also marks thirty five years of Rushden Amenities Society and records our thanks to members past and present for their support at all times.

The inspiration for the format of the tapestry panels was taken from an unfinished series of panels showing the owners of Rushden Hall by Mrs Joan Wood. The example showing, l. to r., Sir Lewis Pemberton, Mr & Mrs John Ekins, Mr & Mrs Thomas Fletcher and son John.
The Arms are those of Ekins: Argent, a bend lozengy Sable between two cross-crosslet fitchee Gules.

The members of Rushden Amenities Society would like to Dedicate this booklet to CLIVE WOOD, a Founder member,
Councillor and First Mayor of Rushden 2001, who has artistically and with skill, and a kaleidoscope of colours designed
the Millennium Tapestries, and has continued with his artwork for the production of this booklet.

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