The first phase of a two-stage upgrade project is currently underway at Leconfield Hall, an 18th Century, grade two listed building which has recently been ‘underused and under-funded’.
Project manager Alex Rees said: “It’s a building that everybody loves and feels attached to, but it’s a bit tired inside, it needs a bit of love.”
The upstairs part of the building – an arts and entertainment venue used for live music, comedy and theatre – is currently undergoing a floor to ceiling renovation, which includes a new lighting system being installed and a renovation of the stage.
“The upstairs auditorium is getting a big makeover, it’s going to be equipped with all the modern, 21st century equipment you would expect to have in a venue like this,” Mr Rees said. “It’s quite a comprehensive project.”
A new state of the art cinema projector will enable films to be shown at release dates at the venue, which has been used by Petworth Film House for eight years.
Mr Rees said they were anticipating the work to be completed in May – well ahead of the Petworth Festival in July.
A new working group will also be established to organise a year-round programme of cultural events and activities at the hall.
“It’s going to be quite a step forward for the town,” he said. “We really hope it will become a bit of a cultural hub.”
The first stage of the project, costing around £200,000, is already 95 per cent funded, with donations and grants from charitable trusts and organisations match funded by the hall trustees.
Phase two of the project, which will focus on the ground floor, is due to start later this year.
Chris Miles, chairman of the Leconfield Hall, said: “I’m delighted to see some serious improvements finally going ahead, following many months of hard work in planning.
“This will be an outstanding facility for the whole town to enjoy when it reopens.
“We see this as a focus for rebuilding the social life of the town post-pandemic.”
Originally the gift of Lord Egremont to the town, The Leconfield Hall is a charitable incorporated organisation, non-profit making, the sole purpose of which is to benefit the town and its people.