Our History

The beginning: 1906-07

In the early 1900s Frances Sarah Williams was renting a property in Painswick while visiting her daughter and son-in-law, who happened to be the vicar of Painswick. She was very wealthy, having been left a lot of money by her first husband, who was part of the Lea & Perrins dynasty, and made a habit of donating to worthy causes. She noted that Painswick lacked anywhere that could happily accommodate large numbers of people, and decided to buy a plot of land in the middle of the village, and give it to the community, along with a lump sum to build a hall and community rooms. Frances laid the foundation stone in December 1906 and opened the Painswick Institute and Working Men's Club in September 1907, to great fanfare.



Frances Sarah Williams

Frances Sarah Williams' vision

Before she laid the foundation stone (which is still visible on the front corner of the building, although much weathered), she placed a bottle underneath it that contained a letter setting out why she was founding the building, and what she hoped it would bring to the people who lived here:
"This bottle was placed under the foundation stone of the Painswick Institute & Concert Hall by Mrs F. S. Williams who laid the stone on Dec 8th 1906. Mrs Williams was at the time renting a home in Painswick, “Gwynfa” by name. During her visits to the town she was struck by the want of any provision for indoor recreation or amusement for the working men & most generously decided to build the Institute & Hall, of which this stone forms a part, for the use & enjoyment of the men of Painswick. The Institution is not to be in connection with any religious body, but Mrs Williams feels that an opportunity to engage in healthy recreation & amusement might tend to brighten men’s lives & benefit them both morally, mentally & physically. The accommodation is to include a Club Room 24ft x 18ft with large recessed fire place. Billiard Room 24ft x 18ft with 2 tables. Library 20ft x 20ft, Kitchen, larder, stoves etc. The Concert Hall is to be 60ft x 30ft with a stage in addition 30ft x 20ft. There will also be green room & dressing rooms.
The Hall will be fitted as a gymnasium & possibly as rifle range for miniature rifle shooting. On the ground adjoining the site a bowling green will be laid out. The front of the building is to be built of stone obtained from an old cottage & outbuildings pulled down on the site. The Hall will be built of concrete blocks made of 4 parts Painswick gravel & one part Portland cement.

Architect                     W. Curtis Green, Grays Inn Square London
Builder                        Messers Burdock & Son Painswick
Clerk of Works            J. Cutter Croydon
Fore Man Mason        S. Mills 

The entire cost of the building including furniture is to be borne by Mrs Williams. When the building is complete it is to be handed over to Trustees for the benefit of the Town of Painswick forever.

The five Trustees are to be –
W. Dyson Perrins Malvern
A. Hyett Esq Painswick House
The Rev W. H. Seddon Vicar & son in law to Mrs Williams
Edward Reed Esq The Rookery
Bicknell Yew Tree House
In addition the Parish Council will appoint two trustees"

Letter FSW 1906