A brief history of the Appleton Thorn Village Hall
The name Appleton existed in the Doomsday Book period, but presumably inhabitants were few since the land, covered with heath, gorse and broom was practically worthless. Appleton appeared in the Doomsday survey as "Epeltune" and means "the tun where the apples grew".
During the 19th Century, a straggling community of isolated houses began to take on its own identity as a village with a church, a pub, a school, a smithy, a post office and a shop.
The village population increased further during the early years of the 20th century and the Church and the school (built during the 1880’s) played an important part in that development. However, when new houses in the 1960’s and 1970’s doubled the village population, it was obvious that the ‘old school’ was inadequate and the ‘new school’ on Arley Road was built. The original building owned by the Arley Estate was, by then, being used occasionally by the church but was sadly deteriorating due to under use. During 1978 a group of villagers voiced a need for a central meeting place in the village. As a result, the Hon. Michael Flower, of the Arley Estate, was approached and he agreed to sell to the village the old school. Funds were raised, sub-committees met and working parties worked on the difficult task of refurbishment.
During the fundraising years, a ‘thermometer’ on the outside of the hall recorded the progress.
Modifications to the inside of the building (we were not allowed to alter the outside shape which gives the building its character and protected its status) took place during 1979-1980.
The official opening ceremony, performed by Lord Ashbrook, took place in April 1980. He explained that the old school was to be owned and used by the residents of the village as a community Centre or, as we all now call it, the Village Hall. May it be so named and so used in perpetuum.
Bawming the Thorn
Each June, the village hosts the ceremony of "Bawming the Thorn". The current form of the ceremony dates from the Nineteenth Century, when it was part of the village’s "Walking Day". It involved children from Appleton Thorn Primary School walking through the village and holding sports and games at the school. This now takes place at the Village Hall.
The ceremony stopped in the 1930’s, but was later revived by the then headmaster, Mr. Bob Jones in 1967.
"Bawming the Thorn" occurs on the Saturday nearest to Midsummer’s Day. ‘Bawming’ relates to the decorating of the thorn tree in the village with ribbons, after which the children sing the ‘Bawming’ song and dance around it.
According to legend, the hawthorn at Appleton Thorn grew from a cutting of the Holy Thorn at Glastonbury which was itself said to have sprung from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea.