Lavenham: Historic Guildhall to get £85,000 lottery refurb

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for NT feature - Credit: Archant

Plans to refurbish a heritage museum in one of west Suffolk’s most famous historic buildings can go ahead, thanks to lottery funding.

The scheme to overhaul the Grade I-listed Guildhall in Lavenham’s Market Place will cost around £160,000. Just over half of that has been secured via a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

The £85,000 cash boost will go towards updating the upstairs rooms at the National Trust-owned building, which is believed to have been built in around 1530.

Guildhall manager Jane Gosling said she was thrilled with the grant, which would enable staff to “transform and re-enliven” the museum.

She said: “People love to come to our museum to read stories of Lavenham through time and find out how the wonderful historic buildings came to be, and why they have survived for so long.

“Although it is very popular, most of the museum’s exhibits were set up in the 1970s and 80s and people nowadays expect more modern interactive displays.

“We will always be the museum of Lavenham and the first place people come to when they want to understand the background to the village. But we want to introduce modern technology to help get the information about this historic place across in the best and most effective way possible.”

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Mrs Gosling described the project as community driven. She continued: “We will be recording local people talking about how they live today and about some of their memories. It is very much a village project and we want to get local people involved in all aspects of the museum, from researching to volunteering.”

Guildhall staff submitted their idea for the refurbishment to the Heritage Lottery Fund and were met with a very enthusiastic response. The organisation’s East of England head said: “The history of Lavenham and the stories of its people are embedded in this wonderful building. We are delighted to support this project that is a great way of bringing the interesting tales to life.”

The project cannot be completed without a further £75,000 and the Guildhall is currently in the process of putting together bids for more funding, including £9,000 from Suffolk County Council.

Mrs Gosling added: “We have quite a long way to go to find the rest of the money. We have some of our own reserves but we have to be careful how we spend the money in case we need it for urgent repairs. We have several fundraising initiatives in the pipeline including a curry night and a series of talks.”