History of the Building
There are three distinct buildings that make up The Cause: the former Methodist Church, believed to date from c1853, a cottage at the front from the same date and Quakers meeting rooms at the rear dating from c1730.
The main buildings are Grade Two listed and as more research is undertaken a unique social history is being uncovered.
The oldest building which is now the Hall and facilities was built as a single story Quaker meeting house in the early 1700’s when the Quaker movement was growing strongly in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. Being non-conformists and unwilling to swear the oath of allegiance to the Crown the Quakers often landed up in jail, were fined and generally intimidated which may account for the building not being at the front of the Causeway.
The deeds to the property reveal that one trustee was EA Fry chocolate maker who along with the Cadburys and Rowntrees were well known for their business success and determination to improve the working, education and living conditions of their employees.
It appears that at the start of the 1800’s the building was used as ‘an establishment for the education of women’, however more research is needed to understand how this operated and who funded it.
In about 1830 the building was acquired by the Methodists and they added in a floor which incorporated the Quaker Gallery and created seven individual prayer rooms which still exist today and in two of the rooms the original wooden seating has been preserved. As the Methodist movement grew they acquired the adjoining properties however the main church was not completed until 1898 and being Primitive Methodists the building did not contain any icons or even a crucifix. They also had a caretakers cottage which was ‘modernised’ at the time that the Church was built but probably dates from much earlier.
The church has very fine Gothic style architecture and the influences of Art Nouveau can be detected in parts of the interior design. The congregation of the church joined the Central Methodist Church in the late 1980’s and the building was sold to North Wilts Council, who left it unoccupied for a number of years before it was placed on the market in 2000.
By this time the buildings were in poor condition and the restoration took over 12 months. In 2002, The Cause transformed into a Community Music and Arts centre – the long term aim being to create a sustainable centre that preserves the buildings, ensuring they be enjoyed by current and future generations.
The Auditorium boasts 150-capacity in the stalls and a surrounding balcony. The space is fitted with a lighting rig and desk, alongside a competent sound system capable of supporting 16 channels in our versatile mixing desk.
The space is a deconsecrated chapel and prior to The Cause’s launch as an Arts Space, was used by the community for many years, as shown in plaques commemorating the lives of those important to the building in these times.
Over the years, the Auditorium has seen many different types of function, from presentations to societies to fully-produced plays and operas. The natural acoustics of the building, complemented by being beautifully naturally lit through stained-glass windows, allow for a wonderful atmosphere that supplements any performance.
The hall is regularly used for weekly workshops and can be set up for any type of event. It can readily house anywhere between 6 and 70 people, the space free to be set up in a variety of different ways. This can include cabaret-style seating, end-on seating for presentation or a plain space for movement, among others.
The hall is entirely wheelchair-accessible, with an adjacent disabled toilet.
Kitchen & Courtyard
To complement the above, The Cause is kitted out with a kitchen facility. Most workshops and events include the provision of tea & coffee, and catering can be organised for special circumstances. Just next to the kitchen is a lovely courtyard – a secret sun-trap for those lovely summer evenings.
The Cottage is adjacent to the main buildings, where songleader Alex Moran provides 1-on-1 or small group singing lessons.
Hire of the above can be arranged with Norma. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 01249 446893.