Frequently Asked Questions

For additional information please refer to the Terms & Conditions of Hire and, during the emergency, to the COVID Special Conditions.

See also the Guide to Using the Halls

Are mobile scooters welcome?

Yes, provided that the driver of the scooter takes care and is aware that the spaces may be crowded and they proceed with extreme caution. Ideally all scooters should use the emergency exits or the large sliding door into the foyer.  However, smaller, class 2,  mobility scooters can access Orchard Hall Foyer using the access corridor provided that there are no people in it. Note: Class 2 scooters are limited to 4 mph and not registered while class 3 can go 8 mph on roads and 4 mph on pavements and have to be registered

Can I bring helium balloons into the Hall?

They are not specifically excluded, but because we ask that you leave the place as you find it, that includes making sure none are left in the ceiling.  We are also concerned that they don’t interfere with the ventilation system in the ceiling apex.

Can I bring indoor children’s bikes/scuttle bugs, etc. into the halls?

Yes, but please take care not to scratch the floor!

Can I have a BBQ in the garden?

No, BBQs are not permitted anywhere on site.

Can I have a Hog Roast?

Yes, provided that it its run by a commercial operator who is adequately insured for third party liability.  Wherever it is placed, the ground underneath the hog roast must be covered to prevent heat damage to the underlying surface, and to prevent spillage, especially of hot fat. A copy of the insurance, and details of how the ground will be protected, will be required.

If placed on the Orchard Hall patio, the hog roast must be at the south end, on the artificial grass area.  The grass must be protected by wooden boards, or similar.  All equipment must be brought in round the side of the building, and not taken through Orchard Hall.  Hall hirer and hog roast provider must ensure that the side fire exit route is not blocked at any time while the hall is occupied.

If placed north of Cherry Hall, the fire exit door must not be blocked, and there must be at least a two metre clearance to enable emergency access from the car park to the foyer and Orchard Hall.

If placed on the gravel south of Cherry Hall, or anywhere on the High Street car park area, then the hall hirer is responsible for supervision of the car park.

Note that power sockets are provided externally, on the patio, outside the Cherry Hall fire doors, and at the High Street car park entrance.  All cable runs from the power sockets to the hog roasting equipment must be properly positioned so as not to present a trip hazard.

Can I hire one hall if there is a group that involves a safeguarding policy to be in place in the other hall?

Any booking would only be accepted after consultation with the group hirer in the other hall.

Can I serve alcohol at my event and do I need to pay for a licence to do this?

The Village Hall has a licence to cover the sale of alcohol (click here for details).  If you are selling alcohol at your event there is a charge of £15 to cover the cost of the licence.  If you are serving alcohol but not charging for it you don’t need to pay for the licence.

COVID-19: Find out more – on this website

COVID: What if I feel unwell – can I still come to the hall?


If you feel unwell, please stay at home. 

If you have attended the hall in the last 7 days, then please tell us that you are unwell as soon as you can by calling 07970 581924. 

If you attended an organised event at the hall, please also contact the organiser of that event and let them know you are unwell.

COVID: Are you taking bookings at the moment?

Yes, but we are treating all bookings on a case-by-case basis to understand the risks and requirements before giving the go-ahead.  We might not be able to accommodate all booking requests yet.

Regarding one-off bookings:  At the moment we are not be able to host parties and other social gatherings of more than two households. 

However, government guidance is updated regularly so please use the calendar to request bookings on the understanding that they may not be able to proceed if these restrictions have not been relaxed by the time of your booking. 

Depending on the guidance at the time hirers will need to confirm that they have read and understood our risk assessment and will abide by all of our terms and conditions.

COVID: Can I book a children’s or adult’s party yet?

At the moment, while we learn how to operate in these challenging times, we are not allowing parties as we believe this type of event would be much harder for the organisers to manage effective social distancing.  As the government relaxes the restrictions on gatherings of people from different family groups and bubbles, we will review this situation.

Feel free to request a booking in the future, but understand that Guidleines will have to change before we can allow the event to go ahead.

COVID: Can I book the retractable seating?

We are evaluating each booking on a case by case basis – as the retractable seating is harder to clean we are relying on quarantining it for 72 hours after each use at the moment, so it will depend on when it was last used prior to your requested booking date.  If you book it then you must be trained in it’s use and will need to follow our guidelines on social distancing when you use it.

COVID: Can I bring a guest / my child with me if I am attending a class?

You can only bring an extra person with the prior agreement of the organiser of the event or class you are attending, as they must be included in the numbers for hall occupancy which are significantly restricted at this time. 

The foyer areas are closed and may only be used as a thoroughfare to enter and exit the premises. 

If you are bringing another regular class attendee (whilst adhering to the latest government guidelines on mixing households), that is fine and will reduce congestion in the car park.

COVID: Can I get changed in the toilets?


The main toilets are not in use except for emergencies and are not available AT ALL for changing.

Please arrive wearing the appropriate clothing for your class or event and get changed when you are back at home.

COVID: Can I stay and talk to my instructor/class organiser at the end of the booking?

We would prefer that you didn’t.  There is a limited time window for the changeover from one class to the next (15 mins) and this is to give you time to leave site and for the instructor/organiser to clean any equipment before the next booking arrives.  If you need to talk to your instructor, please contact him/her at the end of the day when they will have more time to talk to you.

COVID: Can I use the hall tables and chairs?

Please tell us about your requirements when you make your booking.  All furniture must be sanitised before and after each use so you will need to accept responsibility for that when you book. 

If it is not possible to sanitise something belonging to the hall that you have used then it will need to be quarantined for up to 72 hours before it can be used again, so we will need to carefully plan what you are using.  It may be possible for you to bring your own equipment if ours is not available.

COVID: capacity constraints

There will be limits on the number of people attending your activity/event, in order that social distancing can be maintained. The maximum capacity of each room, depending on usage, the number of family units or “bubbles”, and the extent of social distancing applied is:

Distancing 2 m 1 m + mask
Orchard Hall – exercising 23 n/a
Orchard Hall – seated (no retractable seating) 30 40
Orchard Hall – seated retractable seating only 15 40
Cherry Hall – exercising 20 n/a
Cherry Hall – seated 30 40

Each booking should work out its own maximum number depending on their own usage.

We have charts showing how we have arrived at these figures, and which will be helpful for allowing you to work out your specific capacity.

COVID: Do I need to wear a mask In the hall?

Yes, with some exceptions. Since Aug 8 it has been the law that masks have to be worn in community centres.  See Government guidance.

The Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed that on entering the hall, you will be required to wear a face covering, and will be required to keep it on, unless you are covered under a ‘reasonable excuse’ which includes:

  • children under 11, and
  • if you are undertaking exercise or an activity and it would negatively impact your ability to do so.

We have been advised that Pilates and Yoga are classed as exercise and hence masks are not required during these activities,

If in doubt, ask your class/activity leader for  guidance.

COVID: How often will you clean the halls and the furniture?

We are asking organisers to wipe down any equipment that they use before and after each booking, plus any high traffic areas such as door handles, etc. There will always be cleaning materials to hand so if an individual prefers to wipe down something again before they use it, they will be able to do this. 

The floor is cleaned twice per week as part of a full clean of the building.

COVID: If I am late for an organised class or event, can I still go in?

That will depend on the class organiser, but the same constraints apply as for the previous question.  Please try to be on time as your class instructor may not allow you into the building if you are late.

COVID: If I am late for my booking, can I go ahead?

It is essential that you are on time for your booking as being late may mean you run into another class or user arriving or departing.  We are scheduling time before and after classes to allow changeover and manage social distancing so please arrive and leave promptly for your booking

COVID: Remote attendance?

I would like to hold a booking for my group with some people in the hall and others dialling in on a video link – does the hall have the capability for that?

Yes, we have the ability for an organiser to link a laptop into the overhead projector so that you can invite people to join in using a video link, but you will need to provide the laptop and camera and you will need to manage the online video account (eg Zoom, Skype, etc).  If you have not already been trained on this equipment you will need to be shown what to do – please discuss this at the time you make the booking.

COVID: What do I do if I develop symptoms a few days after attending the hall?

As above, if you suspect you may have Covid-19, you will need to get tested.  Please do let us know if you are feeling unwell if you can by calling us on 01235 835430.  Please also contact the organiser of the booking you attended if that wasn’t you.  If you do test positive, we should be contacted through the NHS Track and Trace system and we may need to suspend bookings for a 14 day period.

COVID: What happens if I start to feel unwell while I’m at the hall?

If you start to feel unwell during a class, tell the instructor immediately and leave the room.  We have allocated an isolation/quarantine space for people to sit in the central disabled toilet and is clearly marked. If you can be collected by a family member then please call them to do this as soon as possible or ask your class leader/instructor to do this for you.  If necessary, your class leader/instructor will call an ambulance for you.  If you are the class leader or the person who made the booking, then please follow the above guidance but please also tell us what has happened as soon as you can by calling 01235 835430 and ask someone else to ask other hall users to leave the building immediately as we will need to deep clean the hall.

If you are suspected of having Covid-19 you will need to get tested* and self-isolate for 14 days or until you recover.  If you have a positive test result, you will need to report to the NHS Track and Trace team which may result in the whole class and the instructor having to self-isolate for 14 days.  Therefore, please do not attend class if you are worried that you may have symptoms.
*To get a test go to :

COVID: Will the toilets be available?

Yes, but please try to minimise using these by going before you visit us.  In the interests of your safety, the fewer surfaces you touch the lower your risk of infection. 

We have restricted the use of the toilets to the disabled toilets only. 

The main ladies and gents’ toilets are not in use, except in emergencies and should be used by one person per toilet area at a time. 

We are asking our class organisers and bookers of group events to do their best to carefully manage toilet use to minimise infection risks.

COVID: Will we be able to use the kitchen for refreshments?

You can bring your own water bottle to the hall and refill it in the kitchen, but don’t forget to take it home again! We will disposing of all water bottles left in the hall.

If you are planning to bring food to the hall for consumption by other people, please discuss this when you make your booking to make sure it’s in line with our latest guidance.  For the time being we would prefer it if you didn’t bring food if possible as this causes extra transmission risks for infection.

COVID: Will you provide hand sanitiser?

Yes, but we recommend that you bring your own to minimise cross-contamination.

Do I need to clear up and/or remove rubbish after my booking?

Yes.  The hall provides cleaning equipment for users in the cleaner’s cupboard by the toilets (brooms, dustpan and brush, cleaning liquid, etc.) and there is also washing up liquid, surface cleaner and cloths in the kitchen.
Please bring your own tea towels, even if you plan to use the dishwasher and/or glass-washer.

The hall does not provide a hireable cleaning service.

Users are responsible for leaving the hall or room that they booked, plus toilets, kitchen (including appliances, crockery, etc.) and foyer in a clean and tidy condition.

Please return crockery and cutlery, etc., to the cupboard where you found them.

All rubbish must be taken off site so please also bring a bin liner with you.

Do the halls comply with the latest regulations for accessibility?

Yes.  The main entrance is wheelchair accessible.  The front entrance (to the Cherry Hall) has steps so wheelchair users are asked to use the side entrance about halfway down the right-hand-side of the Cherry Hall.  This is a fire exit and, as such, can be opened from the inside.  Alternatively the Cherry Hall can also be accessed via the Main Entrance and the connecting corridor (see plan below).


All doors are the required minimum width to allow wheelchair access.
There is a hearing loop both in the Orchard Hall and Cherry Hall.

There are two disabled toilets available (see A6).
There are two disabled parking spaces in the Westfield car park and a further two in the car park off the High Street.

Do we have any scale plans

Click for on overall plan of the halls:

And here are 1:100 scale diagrams of each hall:

For calculating hall capacity during COVID we also have diagrams marked to show capacity with varying amounts of social distancing. See also the FAQ about capacity during COVID.

And here is a 1:100 sheet of ready-to-cut-out tables and chairs allowing you to plan your layout in advance. (Thanks to Upton Village Hall for this)

Does the Village Hall have any outdoor space suitable for toddlers/families?

Yes, there is a small patio area (approx 4.7m x 19.2m) adjacent to and accessed from the Orchard Hall.

During COVID do I make my booking in the normal way?

Yes, please use the online booking facility or email us at .

How big are the hireable spaces in the building?

Orchard Hall Floor area: 14.7m x 10.5m = 154 sq metres;
Height: side walls are 3.7m, rising to 5.7m in the centre of the room
Foyer 7m x 7m = 49 sq metres;
Cherry Hall 17m x 7m = 119 sq metres;
Committee Room 3m x 5.5m =  16.5 sq metres;
Kitchen 5.8m x 3.7m = 21.5 sq metres.

How can I get trained on the technical equipment available, e.g. retractable seating, AV systems, etc.?

At the time of booking, please tell the booking secretary what equipment you wish to use and he/she will arrange a training session prior to your booking date.  If this is not possible to schedule, a trained user will meet you on site at the start of your booking (i.e. during your set-up period) and will train you then.

How do I book?

Please refer to the booking page for more information.

How do I pay for my booking?

You will be sent an invoice when your booking is confirmed.  Payment by bank transfer is preferred.  Detail of payment terms are on the charges page.

How many people can you fit in the various rooms and halls in the Village Hall building?

Orchard Hall:
Seated for a meal (using the rectangular tables provided) it’s 120-140 people maximum; 90 seated is very comfortable as shown in the picture below:


Using the retractable seating plus one row of chairs in front this becomes 130 people, e.g. for talks, films and plays.

Cherry Hall:
Seated for a meal (using the rectangular tables provided) it’s 80-100 people maximum.

16 seated and 30 standing. There is access to both halls from the Foyer.

Committee Room:
12-14 seated. There is a separate access from the High Street entrance.

How will I gain access to the halls for my booking?

There is a keypad system for entry to the halls. A code will be given to the user by the booking secretary that will only be valid during the hire period.

Users must vacate the hall by the end of the hire period as the code will not work outside the period of hire, so please do ensure you include set-up and clean-up time in your hire period to avoid inconveniencing the previous or subsequent users.

General instructions on how to enter and exit the halls are here.

If the weather is good can I pull tables and chairs outside?

Yes, but it’s not a large patio.

Is there a dedicated smoking area on site?

No, smoking is not permitted anywhere on site.

Is there a stage in either hall?

No, but in the Orchard Hall if using the retractable seating (available from late December 2016), the seats are tiered and rise away from the floor creating a theatre effect so a stage would not be needed.

Is there be a sound system I can hook up my iPod (or similar) up to?

Wireless connection is not possible, but the sound systems do have connectivity via a 3.5mm jack (provided).

Is use of all the equipment included in my hire cost?

Nearly all of the available equipment is included with two notable exceptions:

  • use of the retractable seating and
  • the exclusive use of the kitchen to prepare hot food

These will attract an additional charge and must be requested at the time of booking.

NB It is permitted to use the oven to heat up small quantities of pre-prepared food for no extra charge, so long as it does not prevent other users from using the kitchen.

What equipment comes with each room?

The equipment available in each room is listed below:

Equipment Orchard Hall Cherry Hall Committee Room
Tables and Chairs Yes
18 rectangular tables (698mm high x 1830mm long x 760mm wide ), 80 blue chairs and 20 grey folding chairs
12 rectangular tables, 68 blue chairs and 20 grey folding chairs
1 boardroom table, 12 blue chairs
Retractable seating* Yes
tiered to seat 117, with additional row of chairs in front takes capacity to 130
No No
Hi Definition Projector* Yes
BenQ SU917
DLP Technology
1920 x 1200 pixels
(WUXGA resolution)
5000 lumens
13,000:1 contrast ratio
Optoma 1080P 1920 x1080 pixels
3600 lumens
HDMI connection to wall mounted flat screen TV
Retractable screen* Yes
Sapphire Electric Screen
350 x 218 cm
16:10 Widescreen format
3m wide, electric
see above
Disc player* Blu-ray, DVD, CD CD no
Playback connections HDMI and phono inputs HDMI, video and phono inputs HDMI
Speakers 6 small wall mounted
plus 2 x large speakers
6 small wall mounted via TV
Hearing Loop Yes Yes No
Hand held and lapel Microphones* Yes
2 of each type
Yes No
Variable overhead lights with preset scenes Yes


Curtains Yes


Piano Yes


Flip chart easel No


Stage Lighting Yes -12 x Compact Par Q4 fixed lights, 2 x Showtec iW720 and 2 x Showtec iS200 (details below – click on image to open on new page):



*Use of retractable seating in Orchard Hall or audio visual equipment (AV) in either hall:
You are encouraged to make sure you know how to use the equipment in advance of your event, and to request a Village Hall representative to show you how to use it.

Regular users are expected to have someone in their group who knows how to use the AV equipment or the seating.

Please do not use the equipment unless you have been shown how to do so.

Please refer to our Performances page for more information including charges for using specific equipment, training, etc.

What equipment is available in the kitchen?

The equipment in the kitchen is listed in the table below. Instructions for the use of the electrical appliances can be found here.

Item Description
Range Cooker Lincat Silverlink 600
Six hob plates; automatic power reduction in case pan boils dry; twin fan assisted oven; vitreous enamelled interior; designed for easy cleaning; 93 litre capacity (Suitable to cater for about 50 people)
Glass-washer Mach MB9240
Freshwater Glass-washer; five minute wash cycle; fully stainless steel
Dish-washer Mach MB9240DW
Freshwater Dishwasher; five minute wash cycle; fully stainless steel
Fridge Glass-fronted, tall.
Heated cabinet Large metal cabinet for keeping food warm
Water heater For tea/coffee, etc.
Microwave Sanyo EM-S105 AW
700watts; 17ltr; 6 power levels for cooking; defrost setting.
Cookware 3 x Baking tray
5 x Bottle Opener
1 x Frying pan
1 x Ice cream scoop
8 x Kitchen Knife
8 x Ladles/spoons
1 x Metal bowl
1 x Microwave
1 x Oven Gloves
4 x Plastic Measuring Jugs
1 x Pyrex Measuring Jug
8 x Saucepan
1 x Slow Cooker
1 x Stanley Knife
1 x Tin Opener
Assorted tea towels and towel
Cutlery 148 x Forks
158 x Knives
78 x Spoons
30 x Teaspoons
Tableware White:
10 x Dessert bowls; 72 x Dessert/Starter Plates; 73 x Dinner Plates; 12 x Soup Bowls; 136 x Saucers; 100 x Tea/Coffee Cups; 48 x Large China Mugs; 2 x Crudity dishes; 33 x Soup Bowls
Other Crockery:
11 x Assorted Mugs; 40 x Harwell Village Hall Mugs; 17 x Red Rimmed Dessert/Starter Plates; 18 x Red Rimmed Tea Plates; 9 x Gold Rimmed Tea Plates; 2 x Sugar Bowls; 4 x Milk Jugs; 5 x Glass Dessert Bowls; 1 x Gravy Boat
3 x Platters; 8 x Teapots (1 no lid, 2 Metal); 4 x Trays;
5 x Water Jugs
8 x Assorted tumblers; 46 x Pint Glasses; 46 x Tumblers;
149 x Wine Glasses; 30 x 40cl glasses; 48 x Champagne Glasses

Figures are for guidance only and as of June 2019, subject to breakages and donations.

What other facilities are available?

Toilets and baby changing – the toilets, including a disabled toilet with baby changing facilities are in the corridor between the two halls.
There is also a disabled toilet adjacent to and accessible from the Committee Room for users of that room (particularly when the Cherry Hall is in use).

Kitchen – the kitchen can be used for making of hot and cold drinks and cold refreshments unless it has been hired for the preparation of food. Use of the dishwasher and glass-washer is included in the standard room fee but they must be emptied after use, drained and wiped out.  See Q7 for more information on the available equipment.

There is a tea/coffee station adjacent to the Committee Room for hirers of that room.
This comprises a kettle, a selection of mugs and a tea pot.  Users must provide their own tea/coffee/milk/etc.  Kettles should be filled from the sink in the kitchen, which can be accessed via the main entrance should the Cherry Hall be in use.

Garden – the patio garden is available to those who hire the Orchard Hall when the weather is dry. We do not recommend using the patio in wet weather and users are requested not to leave wet footprints in the hall. There is no access from the Westfield Car Park but there is a fire exit gate around the side of the building, accessed from the garden.
Please ensure you do not block the fire exit when using the garden.

What rooms are available to hire?

There are various spaces within the halls complex available to hire:

  1. Cherry Hall
  2. Orchard Hall – with or without use of the retractable seating
  3. Kitchen – alongside a hall for the preparation of hot food and therefore exclusive use
  4. Committee Room
  5. Whole complex – i.e. all halls and rooms for exclusive use

NB The foyer is a public space and all users will have access to it unless the entire complex has been hired for the exclusive use of the booking party.  The kitchen may be used by all users for making tea and coffee and cold refreshments unless a user has hired it exclusively for the preparation of food.

Where do I find out more about how to use the halls and hall equipment?

Detailed instructions on how to access the building, along with your  unique security code to access the building for your booking, will be provided at the time of booking.

Instructions on how to use the heating and lighting systems are available here.

Instructions on how to use items of equipment such as the cooker, dishwasher and glass-washer, etc., are provided on site and are also available for download here.

Where should I park?

Please use the large Westfield car park for the Orchard Hall and the High Street car park for the Committee Room and Cherry Hall.

Car park Postcode for Sat Navs Capacity (including number of disabled spaces)
Westfield OX11 0LG* 24(2)
High Street OX11 0EX 10(2)

*Sat nav users please note that Westfield is permanently blocked just past Orchard Way and there is no access from Gaveston Rd.

If your preferred car park is full, there is a path running between the two car parks so either can be used when necessary.

NB If you anticipate having more visiting cars than the spaces will allow, please make arrangements with the Parish Council Clerk to use their Westfield car park (by the recreation ground).  There will not normally be a charge for this, but the Clerk will need to check that it doesn’t clash with another event. Please refer to the Parish Council website contact page here for details of how to contact the Clerk.

The car park is only for the use of people attending an event in a hall. Cars are parked at the users’ own risk. Please be considerate when leaving the Halls late at night and keep noise to a minimum.

Please see separate page with details of how to find the car parks.


Will I be able to set up a bouncy castle inside the building?

Yes, both the Cherry Hall and Orchard Hall can accommodate a bouncy castle.  Please read these notes. The user is responsible for hiring the equipment and supervising the people using it.  Please ensure the supplier has the relevant/appropriate insurances (including public liability insurance) in place for the use of this or similar equipment.  Please also ensure that the supplier provides all other safety equipment, e.g. mats that are required to go around the castle, etc., because there are none at the hall.
You must inform booking administration of your intent at the time of booking.

A venue for all in Harwell, Oxfordshire