Parish Rooms

The Parish Rooms were opened in 1902. They are really called the "Lady Smith Memorial Institute" because they were built as a memorial to Frances, Lady Smith, the sister of Mr Pinney who owned the Somerton Erleigh estate. Lady Smith had been a great benefactor to the town and when she died the money was raised for the grand building which was to bring enlightenment to the town. Several cottages were demolished to make space for the two rooms, and this also opened up the view of the church from the Market Square.

Here we see the gentry arriving for the opening ceremony. The Square was still flat and gravelled at this date, although the 'causeway', established by Sir Edward Hext in about 1600, is clearly visible.

Visit the additional pages for a list of the contributors to the cost, and the opening address which shows the intentions of those who built the Rooms.