Finchingfield Guildhall team on way to London for glittering awards ceremony with Andrew Lloyd Webber

Finchingfield Guildhall

Finchingfield Guildhall - Credit: Archant

A £1.6million project to restore one of Uttlesford’s most historic buildings has been short-listed for a prestigious heritage award.

Work to renovate the 500-year-old Guildhall in Finchingfield started in December 2011 and was completed last month, impressing experts at English Heritage so much that they have entered it in the best craftsmanship category of their Angel Awards, which seek to recognise efforts to rescue historic buildings.

The winners are to be announced at a glittering ceremony in London on October 21.

The impressive white hall which sits on Church Hill at the entrance to the Essex beauty spot was originally built in 1470. Work to restore it involved specialist analysis of the original daub, lime plaster and paint, so workers could replicate the ingredients as closely as possible.

The rescued Guildhall, which is managed by a group of trustees, is a now community asset with a village centre library and museum housed within its walls while there are plans to lease the main Guild Room for exhibitions and functions


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Trustee Jeremy Toynbee said: “Historically, the Guildhall has been at the centre of village life for more than 500 years – it has been a religious place, a school and an alms house over the years.

“For the past 10 to 15 years, it hasn’t been used because it has been in disrepair, so to have it back to its splendour is great for the village. It sits next to St John the Baptist church and should be an additional reason for people to visit Finchingfield.

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“We hope to link together the Guildhall, the village’s windmill, the church and nearby Spains Hall to create a history trail for visitors.”

Jackie Bargman, from the Finchingfield Guildhall Team, added: “There were major repairs necessary to make the Guildhall safe to use by the community. In just two years the building has been completely stripped back to its original timber framework and sympathetically refurbished.

“We are so happy to have been able to save this special building.”

Backed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, the Angels celebrate the efforts of individuals and groups all over the country ‘who put hours of effort, enthusiasm and endurance into saving derelict and severely damaged historic landmarks from being lost forever’.

The Guildhall is among 17 heritage rescues chosen to go forward to the finals of the awards. It is one of just four projects competing for the Best Craftsmanship Employed on a Heritage Rescue category.

Plans are being made for a village opening of the refurbished Guildhall on Bank Holiday Monday (August 26) to tie in with the Church Flower Festival and the rescheduled three-legged race on the same day.

For full details about the project, visit finchingfieldguildhall.org.uk

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