October 23 2014 Latest news:
Friday, July 18, 2014
Champagne corks were popping in Finchingfield as the “remarkable” Guildhall was officially re-opened after a £1.8million transformation.
Dignitaries, trustees, volunteers and schoolchildren all gathered around the historic building on Friday to watch as the Rt Hon the Lord Petre, Lord Lieutenant of Essex, cut the ribbon.
For seven years the Guildhall, built in 1470, was closed after being declared ‘At Risk’ by English Heritage and underwent a £1.8million restoration – £1.3million of which was donated by Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
Today, it stands at the centre of its community and houses a library, museum and a Guild Room for functions and events.
Development manager for HLF, Stuart Hobley, said: “I think it is fantastic. I was here eight years ago and it is so refreshing to see it transformed from the rotting, decaying building it once was, to what it is today.
“What is incredible about this project is the community behind it. They have really come together to make this happen and it shows how much they value their heritage.
“Through the museum and library within, we can all discover this village’s rich history and celebrate the building’s new lease of life.”
When the Grade I-listed structure was first built it played an important part in village life. However, with little planned repairs and maintenance since the 1950s, it became largely unusable.
Last August, it was re-opened to the public.
Patron of the Guildhall Trust, Sir Rodger Singleton, told the Broadcast: “It is great to see the project come to fruition.”