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Friday, 9 May 2014

Final session at NANA’s

It was the final session at NANA’s where we have been running a series of activity sessions with older people.

We met at the Convenience to review the last few weeks. The group discussed how the sessions have been really worthwhile - they’ve enjoyed learning about the local area, coming together as a group to share a common interest and finding out new things about the history and buildings of Clapton.

As the sessions have focused on how the buildings and built environment of Homerton and Clapton have changed over the years (and been based in a café that was formerly a public toilet) it was a fitting end to visit Chat’s Palace – originally a library, now a community arts centre.

Candy Horsbrugh, Centre Director, kindly showed us around, talking us through the history of the building and how it came to be a community arts venue. 

The group were fascinated to see the original features of the building. They inspected the commemorative foundation stone, admired the decorative coving, parquet flooring, the matching criss-cross motif on the windows and balustrades.

It was not hard to imagine the building in its former use; indeed some members of the group remembered visiting when it was a library.

Many of the group also remembered the building when it was as the base for the Hackney Marsh Festival in the 70s and 80s. [image source: Chat's Place]

The highlight was going up into the lovely bright and airy room on the first floor, top lit through an impressive roof light (which used to light the library below – now separated into two floors to create a dark theatre space on the ground floor).

The group were delighted to see that 100 years after it was built as a library, Chats Palace is still in use by the local community: for dance and performance events, workshops, a youth group, a community photography project, darkroom facilities and a café.  

We look forward to revisiting with the Senior BEEs in the autumn – with a view to exploring Chats Palace’s fascinating photographic archive as well as the building.

A big thank you to NANAs for hosting the activity sessions!

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