Essex: Restored 500-year-old Guildhall shortlisted for heritage award.

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- Credit: Archant

A £1.6million project to restore a historic building in an Essex village 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 due 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 north 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.”

The trust has also made plans for the Guildahll to be offically opened on Bank Holiday Monday August 26, to tie in with the Church Flower Festival and the village’s famous three-legged pub crawl race.

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