Formation of Frensham Royal British Legion

After the end of WW1 many ex-servicemen joined an organisation called 'Comrades of the Great War'. In October 1919 a meeting was held in the Holly Bush in Shortfield at which Major W. Chandler became chairman of the newly formed Frensham branch of the organisation; and in 1921 the Frensham British Legion was formed, later to be renamed Frensham Royal British Legion.

Donation of the land & construction

Mr R. Combe of Pierrepont gave a plot of land to house Frensham Royal British Legion in memory of his only son Henry, who was killed during WW1. In the deeds the proviso was made that if it ceased to operate as a British Legion, the land was to be given to Frensham Parish Council for the benefit of the people of Frensham.

Mrs Leonard Remfry of 'Birchen Hey', Gong Hill Drive paid for a Canadian army hut to be dismantled and transported from Witley by a team of horses and wagons. A Chuter & Sons undertook the work of erecting it on the site on which the club stands today.

Early day facilities and events

In the early days there was only one snooker table in the club which was situated in what is now the lounge area. The bar was smaller and there was a card room in which bridge, solo, cribbage and nap were played. The main hall had a stage, which is where the present day snooker room is.

On Friday nights the boiler was lit and members were able to have a hot bath for 6d (2.5p), however members had to provide their own towels!

There was no television, although plays were staged here from time to time; and there was no Bingo in the early days, although popular whist drives were held on Tuesday nights. Dances were popular; however there was no recreation ground, so sports and races were held in the meadow just below the club. There always was, and still is, an annual children's Christmas party.

Remembrance Sunday

The Armistice Remembrance Sundays for WW1 were always a big event. As there were many Army personnel in Aldershot and Bordon, Frensham was usually able to arrange for an Army Band which marched from the Legion to the church and back. The ladies prepared a meal for the soldiers which was followed by a concert where the Army Band would play many old time songs.

WW2

War was declared on 3rd September 1939. The Legion steward at the time disappeared with the takings and was never seen again. The Legion was open to all Servicemen, including the 'Gordon Highlanders' who were very welcome, until they travelled to France where they suffered heavy casualties at Dunkirk.

Pierrepont was taken over by the R.A.S.C. for a while and when they went to the Middle East, various Canadian Units moved in for the remainder of the War. A number of Frensham girls married Canadian soldiers, they sometimes return for a visit to the UK. The Legion has always been very pleased to welcome them.

Post WW2

When the War ended in 1945 the Legion was on a sound financial footing, however during the 1950s the Club's finances declined and by the early 1960s they were in debt and in danger of closing down. Mr Richard Barnsdale offered an interest free loan of £1000 to avoid a closure, and at this point Dave Parsells offered to take over as Secretary. Thanks to Dave and the committee, the Legion was soon back on a sound footing.

Bingo was played on Fridays and Sundays, and monthly dances became a sell out. Firstly Jimmy Atherell played for us, which was followed by the Four Squares. Occasionally films were also shown and enjoyed by the members. Games tournaments and snooker competitions were held, and to this day teams are still entered in the Farnham and District League.

The Farnham Motorcycle Club asked if they could meet in the Legion on Wednesday nights which was a real boost the bar takings. To this day a few motorcyclists still come along on a Wednesday evening.

Present day

Many events take place at the Legion throughout the year, including the Harvest Home where goods and produce are donated each October by the Legion members, local business and local people. All of these goods are auctioned and the proceeds go to the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal, usually in excess of £1000. This longstanding event was instigated by Butch Rollinson.

Remembrance Sunday is also still a big event in the Legion calendar. Wreaths are laid at the Memorials at Frensham School, followed by the service at St Mary's, then on to the Dockenfield Memorial and finally arriving at Frensham Legion for a welcome lunch.