The Wyvern Hall

The Wyvern Hall

This room at Queen’s College, Taunton, has been known by many names throughout its history, reflecting its ever-changing role within the school. Originally called the (Big) Schoolroom, it was the heart of teaching in the early days, with several groups of pupils learning side-by-side in a vast, undivided space. An old photo (circa 1919) shows the layout of desks facing different directions, reminiscent of medieval courtrooms in Westminster Hall.

The walls of the Schoolroom displayed boards honouring academic achievements, a testament to the school’s emphasis on excellence. Sadly, these boards were removed in the 1950s when the room’s function shifted. Gas lamps, visible in the photo, provided the only light until electricity arrived in 1924.

In 1952, the room became the Great Hall, serving as a space for assemblies, plays, and concerts. An organ installed in the gallery (a two-manual Rushworth and Dreaper) accompanied these events. The senior school entered through double doors and sat on individual chairs arranged in rows on either side of a central aisle leading to a stage at the front.

Shakespeare plays were an annual tradition in the Great Hall, with limited set changes hidden by a curtain. A notable non-Shakespearean performance was a 1958 episode of “This is your life” featuring H.J. “Dapper” Channon, with a surprise appearance by his daughter flown in from California.

One of the side rooms served as a chapel from 1951, with pews for 80 and an altar. In the 1970s, it overflowed into the Great Hall during assemblies, with a TV screen relaying the proceedings. The other side room was a boys’ dayroom before becoming a green room, and later, more prosaically, restrooms.

Time and use took their toll, and renovations in 2005 replaced the floor, upgraded the lighting and furnishings, and removed the stage and gallery. Foldaway seating and mirrored walls transformed the space into a Performing Arts Centre (PAC) for dance classes, small productions, and lectures. While ideal for dance instruction, the Queen’s Hall proved better suited for larger performances, leading to the room’s renaming as the Wyvern Hall in 2020.

Today, the Wyvern Hall retains its core purpose as a centre for diverse activities, much like it has throughout its history. From film screenings in the 1930s to examinations, parents’ meetings, receptions, art exhibitions, and even speed dating events, the Wyvern Hall continues to be a versatile and vital space for the Queen’s College community.

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