--- Arts & Social Club ---

New fire escape & other progress.

Added on by Alexei Janssen.

As you know, we had to close The Hall temporarily last May. Operating it without basic facilities was getting both dangerous and uncomfortable for everyone despite your warm hats, resolve and support. 

However, there have been some developments. A Hall member entered us into a competition to win a kitchen, which we won. So, should we find the last of the development money from somewhere, we will have a lovely professional kitchen courtesy of System Six Kitchens. 

We haven't made a song and dance about it because we haven't raised the money to build the structure to house it.. but it's a step in the right direction nonetheless.

The fire escape issue has also been solved as we jointly won a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to modify the fire escape, a major stumbling block in this project as you know. 

Everything else is now in place. Planning permission, structural and architectural drawings are all complete and we're pretty much ready to go, minus £60,000 to finish the internal structures and toilets.. but we are currently sifting through competitions and potential grants bodies to find the final contribution. 

So as usual, we don't want to put a time frame on anything, but things are nudging forward slowly.. 

We'll update you all as soon as I have any more information. 

The Team

The Hall is now closed.

Added on by Alexei Janssen.

Unfortunately we have had to close the Hall until such a time that we are able to solve the fire escape issue.

The Church next door have plans to modify the escape and we are waiting for further information. 

Video : Christmas Dinner

Added on by Alexei Janssen.

Here's a stop motion video of our Christmas dinner. Next year we promise less jumpers, more dancing and more nights. Happy Christmas and thanks for all your support in 2014.

Euripides' 'Hecuba'

Added on by Alexei Janssen.

Exeter University Theatre Company performed a modern day adaptation of Euripides' 'Hecuba' in a new version by Frank McGuinness. A brave choice for a professional company let alone a university theatre society. After the dress rehearsal, word soon got out that this was no amateur performance and the three nights sold out in record time. Hopefully, they'll be back next year. Thanks again to the audience for braving the cold.

Dining dress rehearsal

Added on by Alexei Janssen.

In preparation for our first ever community dining event in December, we thought we had better do a dress rehearsal. On Friday the 14th of November we cooked for 18 volunteers and friends to test the temporary kitchen, atmosphere, bar and menu. All we can say is that we are now pretty excited to receive you all at Christmas. Here are some pictures from the night. 

Christmas food poverty appeal.

Added on by Alexei Janssen.

This Christmas, Exeter needs your help! 

We are collecting food for other charities on December the 6th

We are teaming up with V-inspired to raise awareness and help tackle food poverty in Exeter this Christmas.

On December the 6th we will open all day to collect food and/or money in return for entertaining, feeding and thanking you. 

As long as food is in date and unopened we will gladly take it from you and distribute to various charities and organisations who know how best to make a difference. 

Shortly we will be announcing a program of events during the day as well as logistical arrangements like parking, timing and preferred food types. 

More details coming soon. Please come back and visit this page soon.

Please help us promote this event

  • Tweet or email this link: www.thehallexeter.org/foodpoverty
  • Use the blue Facebook share button at the top of this page
  • Ask your boss, place of worship, organisation to make an announcement.


Thanks everyone for making the event such a success. We received over 300 donations to help those in need over Christmas. 

The History of The Hall

Added on by Alexei Janssen.

In preparation for our application for a refurbishment grant, we commissioned this historic building survey. It details the building's history as well as Stepcote Hill's journey through nearly 2000 years of history. Worth a read if you are interested in the history of Exeter.

May Update

Added on by Alexei Janssen.

Ignite Theatre Festival

April and May have been busy months in preparation for the Ignite Theatre Festival. On 5, 6, and 7 of June we have four amazing acts for you. We would love to show how busy The Hall could be one day and get some pictures of it back in full swing. To see the full programme and book tickets, click on the link below:

If you in any way need persuading, here are some reviews Don Quixote has received:

"Cheerfully anarchic show takes apart Cervantes' novel – with a power saw – and sends a reminder that change begins with us" * * * * The Guardian

"It’s a life-affirming message of hope through disruption and determination, and if that’s not the best way to start a new year then I just don’t know what is." * * * * Time Out Critics Choice

See all four shows at The Hall for just £22!  We are also running a full bar. Persuaded?


We are still in the process of applying for Heritage Lottery Funding (HLF). The archaeological survey is nearly complete; I shall post a copy on here when it's done. Next will be the building survey, which should take a month or two, and then we shall return to the HLF for more guidance. We are no longer giving estimates as to when we may re-launch in order to avoid any disappointment. In the meantime, please support us in attending our skeleton programme of events this summer.

The Building

As much as possible, we are trying to get on with some of the reconditioning with the money we have left. All the windows have now been repaired, re-glazed where required, and re-painted in original colours (or as near as). We are also about to double-glaze the rear windows to aid soundproofing (and heat retention when we eventually have heating). Bolton town hall were getting rid of their stunning 1960's theatre lights, so we gladly purchased them (strand 123s and 23s for the retro-lighting nerds out there) and they are currently being stripped and renovated in Oxfordshire. We are now aiming to get them going sometime in the summer - I had hoped to have them ready for Ignite but with my sister and I both due babies in the next week we have run out of time. Here are the lights ready to be re-built:

Exeter 2nd Scouts kindly gave up three evenings recently to build us a bar for the theatre festival. The bar is a prototype of the proposed design, so we will be able to see whether it needs tweaking before we commission it as part of the refurbishment. To read about the scouts efforts, please see our previous post here:


The fire escape has finally passed the planning phase! We can't quite believe it, given the problems that it has caused, but persistence has paid off in this case. We are about to submit our application for outline permission to rebuild the rear section. The designs below have had a big input from our members, so we thank you for all your feedback and constructive criticism.

Here are the plans! Click to see a bigger version.

Summer Events

Currently, The Hall is pretty basic, although the space is clear. Given that fundraising may take some time, we have decided to just get on with as much as we can. Over the summer, we will be putting on a few events to demonstrate to our potential funders that there is demand and interest. Please keep an eye on our what's on calendar and make sure you have signed up as a member/joined our Facebook group/twitter to be kept up to date. 

Again, thank you for your patience! We really hope to see you all at the Ignite Theatre Festival in a couple of weeks.


PS. This Thursday we have a volunteer day to get the space ready for Ignite. If you have any time free please pop down. More info here : 


Exeter Scouts Build Theatre Bar

Added on by Alexei Janssen.

Exeter 2nd Scouts have begun designing the bar for the ignite theatre festival. They are building it next week as part of their community badge. Thank you to all the scouts that have shown such imagination and enthusiasm.

For more information on Exeter's second scouts.. click on their logo

April Update

Added on by Alexei Janssen.

Things are starting to move here at The Hall again. Since realising that fund-raising could take some time, we have decided to get on with running some events during the summer while we prepare our Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) application. Please keep an eye on the events section of our website and sign up as a member to get invites.

So here is a brief update on whats been going on.

The Building

The Hall has been sandblasted by www.rocketblasting.co.uk and all sand removed (by Exeter Uni Drama Students) and we are now getting ready to prepare the windows for painting and soundproofing. It looks stunning so please drop in and have a look or come to one of our volunteer days and have a peek! We would love to get your feed back on some of the proposed designs also. Most leaks have stopped although we have found two last points of water ingress we are now dealing with.


We have begun talks with the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), who have asked us to complete an archaeological and building conditions survey which are both now underway. Once we get a clearer idea of how we might work with the HLF then we will start talking to foundations and other private funders. In the meantime, we do have the facility to accept donations on our website. There are many unknowns as to how long it may take to raise the funds, so we have withdrawn any predictions on when we might open after the refurbishment. Instead, we have decided to get on with some events. 


We are very excited at the prospect of holding some trial events in The Hall this summer. We are limited to 40/50 people until be get our new fire escape and we will have to close in October when it gets cold. Running some events will give us a better idea of how the building operates and gives us an opportunity to meet you and find out what you want! 

We held our first ever dance event on the 22nd of March - the first Thrupenny Hop for 69 years. Margaret Turbin told us about the gramophone disco that took place in the 40's which we want to re-instate. Thanks to everyone that turned up, dressed up,  despite the cold.
Here are some pictures

Before the Thrupenny Hop, Exeter Uni Drama department help a couple of their end of year productions that were fantastic. Once of the productions featured a complete history of The Hall and a puppet show of the Character from the famous Mathew Miller Clock on west street.
We are also proud to announce that The Hall will be a venue for Exeter's Ignite Festival. We will be open from the 4th to the 7th of June will up to 6 national standard and some award winning productions. Expect some tantalising announcements very soon. Also in the planning are some Historic Exeter Talks, Dinner Dances, Dinner Talks and acoustic music nights.  Stay tuned and keep tabs on our whats on calendar.. Here you will also see when we are open for Volunteer days. Please support us this summer.


We had to abandon our efforts to send out regular newsletters after an increasing amour ended up in spam filters. We are now trying again with a new method; if you are a member and you are not receiving email from us, please do let us know. If you are on facebook or twitter, please follow and like us to get even more regular updates. 



See you all very soon

Alexei & Ruth

Happy Valentines Day. Fundraising starts today!

Added on by Alexei Janssen.

We officially launched our fundraising campaign on Valentines Day 2014. We are applying for approximately £70,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund but will need to match fund the grant with our own fund raising efforts. We are approaching members, philanthropists, foundations and trusts that share our vision. Our target is £50,000. For more info, click the fundraising heart below. P.S Happy Valentine's Day from everyone at The Hall.

 Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy 2014 - Update

Added on by Alexei Janssen.


We are still working hard to bring The Hall to life. As ever, thank you for your patience. 

Since we last posted we have completely sandblasted the interior walls. Thank you to Rocket Blasting SW, the Church and local residents and businesses for putting up with the dirtiest job I've ever seen. At the end, the floor was covered in 4 inches of sand throughout. It has left The Hall in pretty much the state it was in when it was first built in 1892. It looks amazing.

Since we last spoke, we have shifted our attention from the structure and fabric of the building to preparing for fund raising. Having been mentored by Alan Wright from the Bristol Old Vic theatre, we have decided to go for it and equip the hall throughly to a higher standard than we had originally intended to ensure we can cater for much wider diversity of events and ensure our long term sustainability. This does mean that there may be further delays while be go through grant application process and talk to other potential funders. We have also begun looking for a suitable Patron who shares our philosophy and begun engaging with the council to see how The Hall could potentially fit into their cultural strategy for the city. 

When we bought The Hall we imagined a simple open space with mad max style space-heaters and not a lot more. Over the last 2 years we have run into some massive barriers with fire escapes that we have overcome, and have continually been encouraged to increase the reach and potential of the project, which has ultimately led to sliding forecasts for opening. We hope you will understand and continue to be patient. I've said it many times before but we are sure more than ever that it will be worth it. For these reasons and more, we will not be giving any more forecasts for opening, it will happen but due to the nature of funding we cannot predict how long this will take. We will however keep you regularly updated with our progress. 


Save Saturday 22nd of March as a group of Drama students will be hosting the first 'Thrupenny hop' after a 60 year break. Margret Turbin (featured below) told us about the old dance hall event that took place in the late 40s which we would like to revive. The Thrupenny Hop will take place after their theatre event that will be announced next week. Tickets will be free but are likely to sell quickly. (Last year's sold out in 2 hours).This will also be a rare chance to take a glimpse at the now naked interior of the building. 

Hope to see you all soon.

Alexei & Ruth

A surprise visitor..

Added on by Alexei Janssen.

During the volunteer day last weekend, a lady stopped me and was inquisitive about what was going on inside. She explained that she had come from Coventry with her familiy to visit her old family home on Stepcote Hill. As it turns out, Margaret was born on Stepcote Hill, Baptised and Married in St Mary's steps church and had her wedding reception in The Hall on the 6th of August 1955. She remembers sheltering from the air raids in The Hall during the war and recalls the 'thruppenny hop' a dance night with a gramophone for the cities young people on a wednesday night, an event we'd love to reincarnate. She sent me this letter these photos the following week. (click to enlarge)

Dear Alexei, this is Margaret .

I have found another couple of photos that may be of interest to you. One on my wedding day with my father at the top of Stepcote hill, walking me down the steps to the church. The other is 58 years later stood on the steps. (How time flys). 

The other photo is of my brother he was married at the church also on Boxing Day 1955. He also had his wedding reception in the hall. 

I was born at number 3 st Mary's steps terrace in 1936 I was one of 6 children all in a small house and was the youngest. 

The steps were our playground when we were growing up and there was a real sense of community on the hill. One memory was in 1947 a real bad winter us children used to slide down the hill on bits if old carboard when it snowed. 

The hall was used by many... The scouts and the cubs. The threepenny hop was held every Wednesday evening for any young people. The music was played on an old grammar phone and the piano in the hall. We used to listen and dance old time dances and a little but of modern dance. We loved this every Wednesday. Such a real community spirit. Sadly long gone. 

During the war we were all under the old market when the sirens sounded, and I remember father Brown the vicar if the church on Stepcote hill came and fetched us and he opened the hall and we all spent the time during the air raid sat in the hall. Every Sunday morning and afternoon was spent in the hall for Sunday school.

I would be honoured to attend the re- opening if the hall. I am really happy that you are taking such an interest in the hall and I hope that all your hard work means the hall will continue to be a important part of the lives of exeter people. And it was lovely to be able to go inside after all these years, I thank you for showing us around. Don't hesitate to contact me if there is anything further I can help with.

Kind regards Margaret

Help! - Volunteer Day - Free Cake

Added on by Alexei Janssen.

We have been working constantly for almost 2 months on the exterior and have 1 week to go. We have also finished stripping the inside. We now need to clear The Hall to allow the walls to be sandblasted. If you have some time next Saturday, please help us take all the remaining junk down to the trailer so it can go to the tip. Nothing too strenuous but there's quite allot to get out. 

As usual, please wear sturdy shoes and scruffy clothes. If you've never been before, come and see what we're up to and meet some other members, they're all lovely. Come on your own or with friends..

If you have an estate or car with a trailer, even better (please call me). We'll be taking everything to the recycling centre in Marsh Barton. 

My Phone number is 079 4646 8447 - Alexei

Please comment here if you can come, so we know how many to expect. 

PS With regard to everything else we have been waiting since March to get the plans back for the new fire escape and are chasing it up on a weekly basis. Due to this we are currently 1 year behind our original schedule and hope to open between Easter and summer assuming see the plans soon.

Alexei & Ruth



Added on by Alexei Janssen.

After a painful 3 months of nail biting, towel throwing and ceiling staring (at one point we actually gave up), we have movement: Architect is now drawing up plans for improved fire escape to meet stringent regulations. We have also been given the go-ahead to begin work on the exterior of the building which will start at end of July.

We are currently 6 months behind schedule so obviously we will not be open this summer as billed.

We will keep in touch.

Ruth & Alexei

Dear Very Patient People,

Added on by Alexei Janssen.

As you may have noticed, we've been rather quiet. We have been trying devise a plan to bring the fire escape up to building regulations, and it at times has seemed impossible. At one point we had a assumed the project was over. More recently we have had another idea which involves working with the Church next door to move one of their out buildings. We are now waiting to hear back as to whether this is a workable plan. 

We are sorry that the delay will mean opening later in the year if all goes well.

We will keep you informed, I promise you it will be worth it in the end!

Alexei & Ruth

Work Weekend Timelapse

Added on by Alexei Janssen.

Here is the time lapse video and pictures from the last work weekend.

Thank-you to everyone who helped us take up the floor. Group shots are in there somewhere, you'll have to pause the video to see them. Also, at about 7am on Sunday morning, The Hall had a small visitor who stayed for a couple of minutes to check out the results of your hard work. A wagon wheel for first one to spot it.

If you want to help, keep an eye on the calendar on our website which now display all the days we are working there.




Work Weekend, 2nd/3rd February

Added on by Alexei Janssen.

For those of you who have offered to give us a hand or just fancy dropping in to see what's going on: we are having a clear-up on the 2nd and 3rd of February from about 10 a.m. Our main task is to de-nail, sort and chop a mountain of wood that has accumulated during the demolition and move stuff to the skip, though there is plenty of general carrying, sweeping and cleaning to be done if you prefer.
If you do decide to join us, please bring a hammer and saw (if you have one), sturdy shoes, gloves, dust mask and eye protection. Please do not bring electrical or any other tools, non-members or under 18s (this time) or pets.. We will provide tea and coffee and Bel Green cafe will supply a few cakes and nibbles. There will also be a iPod/mp3 dock if you want to play motivational music to the rest of the work party.
We have no idea how many people may turn up, so please do not be disappointed if there are too many of you for us to manage (feel free to eat cake anyway). If in doubt, you can always call Alexei on the day on 07946 468447 to see where we are at with numbers.
Either way we would love to get a great big group photo of you all at 2 p.m. on Saturday, whether you helped or not.

Don't worry if you can't make it but are still keen to help: there will be plenty of opportunities to leave your mark over the next six months.