A woman who was instrumental in a 1970s restoration project at a historic Suffolk site has called for the building to be given listed status after a row over an ongoing renovation. 

Joyce Baker and her husband bought The Granary at Flatford Mill in 1977 and worked to restore the derelict structure, converting it into a home for their family before they sold it in 1979.

One end of the former store grain, which functioned until the early 19th century, had to be completely rebuilt and the whole roof was rethatched during their two-year project. 

Now, after buying the property in 2018, the National Trust has begun work to add insulation to the beamed ceiling of the main room, a move Ms Baker said will 'ruin' the room and damage its history. 

East Anglian Daily Times: The Granary at Flatford MillThe Granary at Flatford Mill (Image: Owen Hines, Newsquest)


"They are upsetting the whole ambience of the room and ruining the beauty of it all together by trying to insulate upwards, rather than downwards, in the proper fashion," she said. 

"This current work would mean the grain chutes from the upper floor will be covered and the original old wooden loft steps secured to the ceiling at the moment will be totally lost by their intended work and probably never seen again." 

Ms Baker, who now lives in a home just 100 feet from The Granary, said she requested to the National Trust that any insulation material should be put in the void below the upstairs floorboards and between the downstairs beams so as to retain the look of the room. 

The trust, which said it is committed to carefully balancing the preservation of buildings with ambitions of becoming carbon net zero by 2030, stopped work to look into other methods but Ms Baker said she has now been informed her that work on the previous plan will continue.

East Anglian Daily Times: Joyce Baker (far right) pictured with other East Bergholt villagers in 2016 Joyce Baker (far right) pictured with other East Bergholt villagers in 2016 (Image: Newsquest)

"When they told me they were not going to change their plans, and I was very disappointed," she said.

"The Granary is very much part of the history of the area - it was a grain store for Flatford Mill itself originally. It is my baby. Seeing this happen is heartbreaking to me."

Ms Baker is now in the process of applying to Historic England to get the building official 'listed' status, which offers a level of protection surrounding renovations and building work. 

Anyone can apply for listed building status, even if they are not the homeowner, and buildings are given the accolade if they are considered by the Secretary of State (for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) to be of special architectural or historic interest. 

"I want to know that the building will be protected and any work will be carried out in the right way," said Ms Baker. 

"I think listed building status should have been given years ago. It is time to get it done now." 

A National Trust spokesperson, said they are aware of concerns and paused work in light of these to carry out further research. 

“Following further investigation and reviewing all options, we are proceeding with the work we had planned with some small modifications, to a building identified as one of our poorest performing in terms of heat loss," they said.

“The beams in the Granary were treated and cleaned before the property was acquired by the National Trust, which has resulted in them becoming homogenised to all be of similar colour and finish, meaning that they wouldn’t provide an enhancement to benefit public knowledge of the building’s original vernacular, had they been left uncovered."

The spokesperson said they explored the option of insulation between the upstairs floorboards and the ground floor ceiling, but the cavity space was insufficient.

“We are committed to carefully balancing our preservation of buildings with our ambitions of becoming carbon net zero by 2030. As such we treat each individual situation on its own merits and set of considerations," they said.

"The work being carried out in the Granary will not damage any original features and can be reversed in the future if better solutions become available."