Traditional skills on show at West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village

The completion of the new covered seat and noticeboard at West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village.

The completion of the new covered seat and noticeboard at West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Traditional building skills were celebrated at an open day in west Suffolk at the weekend.

A new covered seat and notice board at West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village, near Bury St Edmunds, were unveiled on Saturday.

The structure was created as part of the £2.2million Heritage Lottery Funded ‘Breaking New Ground’ initiative.

There was a ‘topping off’ ceremony and the project’s chairman, county councillor Lisa Chambers, performed the official ‘opening’.

The day was also intended to promote a series of free ‘Brecks Heritage Skills’ workshops for the coming year, which will start in October.

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There was a chance to see what participants of last year’s training courses learnt and built – including the covered seat – and to view a new short film documenting the project.

Nick Dickson, Breaking New Ground project manager, said he was surprised by the response to last year’s courses which was “fantastic”.

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He said: “Although modern day builders create wonderful structures with steel and concrete, we are losing the traditional skills that went into creating some of the timber framed buildings that have lasted for centuries.

“It’s quite a specialist area so we didn’t know what to expect, but we offered 50 places on each of the six courses and were fully subscribed.

“They are aimed at owners of listed buildings or builders who work on them to give them an idea of the importance of those skills for repairing listed buildings. Having a practical session also gives heritage home owners the confidence they need when they are dealing with builders.”

More than 260 people took part in last year’s courses. Participants created the covered seat structure as a thank you to West Stow for hosting the courses.

Saturday’s event was organised by Orchard Barn – a community interest company set up to promote traditional skills – along with the Breaking New Ground Landscape Partnerships, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund,

The new workshops, led by heritage experts, will take place monthly and will cover subjects including lime mortar, flintknapping and timber framing.

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