The building dates from 1864 and was built to function as both church and school for Hellifield village. The schoolmaster’s house was attached to the end of the building. Mrs Frances Stansfield, wife of the Vicar of Coniston Cold, provided this village facility. She was a member of the Hamerton Family of the original Hellifield Peel.
From Monday to Friday , the building served as an Elementary School and on a Sunday it became the church and Sunday school. The Institute continued to fulfil these roles until the building of the present St Aiden’s Church and the primary school in the first decade of the 20th century.
In 1887 the ownership of the land, school and schoolhouse was transferred to the board of trustees for the sum of £500 with the site to be used for educational and charitable purposes and “as a school for the education of children and adults or children only of the labouring, manufacturing and other poor classes “.
After closing as a school in 1915, the Institute was used as a reading room and billiard room for men only. Later the village library was located there and in 1926 the Girls Friendly Society met in the Institute. What is now the Yorke Room, was turned into a kitchen to provide school meals for schools in the district. It was later used as a workshop by a local business.
In 1972 the responsibility for running the building changed to a Committee of Trustees to run as a registered charity -- the situation that still exists today.
In the 1980’s the kitchen and toilets were built along with the conservatory linking all the rooms within the Institute. Major Yorke was invited to open the refurbished back room renamed the Yorke Room. It was at this time the adjoining house was sold.
Since then, of course, the building has evolved over the years to the multi-purpose centre it is today. Still run by local people for the local community.