Sir Roger Singleton CBE committed to restoring significant Grade I listed Essex building

A COMMUNITY-LED campaign to restore one of the most historic and significant buildings in Finchingfield has been given a massive boost.

The Finchingfield Guildhall Trust needs �1.8 million to overhaul the Guildhall to bring it back to its former glory, and is in the stages of applying for the final �500,000.

This week the Trust announced that Sir Roger Singleton CBE, the former chief executive of Barnardo’s, has given the campaign a boost by becoming a Patron.

Trustee Jackie Bargman said: “To have a Patron as revered and influential as Sir Roger is a splendid boost to the campaign. His commitment to our historic built heritage is only surpassed by his wonderful charitable work.”

Sir Roger said he has a “long-standing interest” in buildings such as the Guildhall as he lives in a 16th Century timber frame house himself.

“There were two main reasons that I got involved with the campaign,” he said.

“This is clearly a fine building both in itself and historically; it is grade I listed and it is quite extraordinary.

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“I think it is very important to be playing a small part in restoring it and bringing it back to community use.

“I also like what the building stands for. Go back to the 15th century and this was part of society at the time. It provided education as a grammar school for 30 boys and then social care when it was the almshouses.

“It is tangible that the Big Society was alive and well hundreds of years ago. The Guildhall is about a community coming together and helping themselves and the needy.”

The restoration of the Guildhall will see the old almshouses demolished and the new building catering for the community by providing a hall space, library and a museum.

Jeremy Toynbee is a team member of the project. He said: “We’re just about to launch the final part of the campaign which will be focused on getting grants and money from businesses.

“The actual restoration work starts in the early autumn. We need to match the lottery fund before the funds will be released.

“We are in the process of finalising the plans and building regulations at the moment.

“There is a lot going on behind the scenes but the work that the community will see begins later this year.”