at the heart of the community.
Designed by architect Percy W. Meredith, our striking Art Deco venue was built in 1931 to house the Leith Hill Musical Festival and host renowned composer Ralph Vaughan Williams’ staging of Bach’s St Matthew Passion.
The venue was designed to host a range of community events. It comprised three Halls: the Masonic, the Martineau and the impressive Grand; all of which remain today.
The Grand can seat 900 people, and its original stage could accommodate 300 singers and a full orchestra. The acoustics were exceptional and there was also a fully-sprung dance floor.
The Halls remained the property of the Leith Hill Musical Festival until the Second Word War, when the building was commandeered by the Meat Marketing Board and the Army. Once the war was over, the Halls was left in poor condition and would have cost too much to restore, so it was sold to the Dorking Urban District Council for the knock-down price of £15,000.
The council, which still owns the venue, brought it back to life, and by 1946 activities were happening daily, including flower shows, Scouts and dance evenings. Due to its popularity, the council began welcoming professional, higher-profile acts and productions.
The Halls underwent a large-scale refurbishment between 1994 and 1997, creating the modern, fully-equipped theatre, cinema and conference venue we know and love today.
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