Until the early 1890s, Woldingham had its own pub, The Hop Pole, located on the south-east corner of the village green at Northdown Road. However, under the William Gilford covenants and in line with strict teetotal Victorian values of the time, our village was deemed unworthy of such an establishment and the pub was purchased and subsequently closed by Mr Gilford. Rightly or wrongly, Woldingham was deprived of the iconic English village pub and community hub enjoyed by most other villages across the country.
Yet, shortly after the First World War, four far-sighted men in the village, Harry Letts, Arthur Walmsley, Harcourt Hanrott and Dr William Ellis got together and decided to fill the gap by setting up a club for the use of the community. The ‘Woldingham Institute’ charity was established on 23 September 1920 and funds were raised. Then, on 12 October 1920, the 'four founding fathers' bought two roods of land on which the Club now stands in Upper Court Road from a Dr Tertius T Boswall Watson. The inaugural meeting of the ‘Woldingham Village Club’ was held on 18 December 1920 with the land and building being formally vested with the Charity Commission for England and Wales a few days later on 23 December 1920. The original deed stated that the Club was ‘to be used as a place for recreation for the inhabitants situate 1½ miles of the said Institute of either sex who had attained the age of eighteen years.’
Over the years, the Club or Institute, was largely dismissed as a ‘working men’s club’ and failed to attract a wider cross section of the residents. Fortunately, this outdated and narrow image has been changing with an ever growing range of people from many professions and backgrounds joining and contributing positively to the Club’s future. While the Club may have seen many changes since those early days, its founding principles of 'not for profit' service to our village remain unchanged today. As then, the Club needs the support of all the residents of Woldingham and beyond to survive and thrive in the twenty-first century.
Woldingham Village Club is inclusive and belongs to all of the residents of Woldingham. As a local organisation, the Club is committed to being active in the life of the village and to work with other groups and interests in helping make Woldingham a good place in which to live. By being a member of the Club, you, your family and friends are contributing not only to the Club’s future but Woldingham’s too.