Finchingfield Guildhall regeneration project enters final fundraising stage

A �1.8million project to restore an historic facility in the heart of Finchingfield has entered its final fundraising stage.

Lord and Lady Ruggles-Brise, of Spains Hall on the outskirts of the village, welcomed the many trustees, volunteers and donors of the Finchingfield Guidhall project to celebrate the launch of the Finchingfield Guildhall Community Campaign.

The campaign will guide the final push to raise �150,000 for the refurbishment of the inside of the Guildhall. That will take place once the renovation work to the 15th century building, money for which is already in place, is complete.

Once all the work is complete, the Guildhall will boast a larger library, a museum chronicling the varied past of the Grade I-listed building, a shop, reception hall, kitchen and a function room.

Sir Roger Singleton, who is patron of the community campaign, said: “I would like to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund, which has given us nearly �1.4million towards the project, as well as our other donors.

“We would not be on the schedule we are on now if it were not for your generosity.”

He added: “There are two reasons why this project is so important. The building has architectural importance in an area rich in timber-frame buildings, and to have a 15th century, Grade I-listed example, we can’t allow it to crumble away.

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“The Guildhall also reflects the life and aspirations of the community of which it is a part.”

Chairman of trustees the Rev Colin Wilson said the trustees, who came together only in 2006, could not believe how quickly the project had moved forward.

“Back then we were aware that the building was deteriorating and it was even put on the ‘at risk’ register,” he said.

“For us, as owners of the building, the easiest option would have been to sell it, but we didn’t want to go down that route.

“The people who built the Guildhall in the 15th century had a vision: they wanted to create something for people of the future that would be of lasting value.

“In 2006, with some trepidation and prayer, we began to dream dreams and began to develop a new vision for our Guildhall.

“As a group of six trustees, we weren’t about to climb this mountain alone.

“Thanks to the project team, research group and the community who have brought the village together on this exciting project, the new Guildhall will be very much a part of Finchingfield for generations.”

High Sheriff of Essex Lady Rosemary Ruggles-Brise said that Spains Hall would be undergoing a renovation within the same year as the Guildhall, so that “the past will become the future in Finchingfield”.