A new look for landmark Suffolk building

ONE of Suffolk's most iconic medieval buildings has unveiled its controversial new look during a topping out ceremony.

ONE of Suffolk's most iconic medieval buildings has unveiled its controversial new look during a topping out ceremony.

The Suffolk Building Preservation Trust (SBPT), which owns Little Hall, in Lavenham near Sudbury began a £20,000 restoration scheme earlier this year and it is the new colour which has been turning heads.

The work included re-pointing of some of the brickwork, repairing many of the timber frames and over painting them with a specially formulated lime wash called 'Little Hall Yellow'.

The project encountered a number of challenges - not least the discovery that many of the exposed beams were in such a bad condition repair work may have to be repeated every three years.

But conservators have been very careful to make sure the grain of the timber was still evident.

Richard Ward, director of the SBPT, said: “Although we described the recent work to the exterior of the building as 'the shock of the old' we have tried to restore it nearer to its original look and it was really something of a compromise.

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“Residents and visitors had got used to the beams being exposed and in a different colour to the rest of the building.

“So although we have painted the beams alongside the rest of the building in what is called Little Hall Yellow, we have treated them in such a way that the grain and the look of the wood is still visible.”

The topping out ceremony yesterday, involving the replacing of the final brick, was conducted by the new chairman of SBPT Martin Lightfoot.

Renowned architectural expert and Suffolk-based author, Norman Scarfe, was also present to support the work.

Mick Scott and John Calvino of John W Younger Ltd, the two craftsmen who worked on the restoration of Little Hall, were on hand to make sure everything went smoothly.

Mr Lightfoot said: “It is a beautiful building, which I feel honoured to be taking responsibility for.

“I think it looks very attractive. I remember when the Guildhall's beams in Lavenham were covered and that caused controversy at the time. But it does make it stand out and it is probably more authentic.

“It will mellow over the years as the brightness goes.”

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