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March 2007: Tim Dingle, Project Manager

I'm sure most of you will be wondering why work hasn't started yet. The answer is that it has, but not so you can see!

Like all big projects, there is a lot of preparation work involved. Tenders need to be written, sent out and contracts awarded. These need a lot of care to ensure that contractors know what is expected of them. This is especially true of such specialist work as is involved with the repair of the cob and the ancient timbers of this magnificent building. It is hoped that work will begin on the building in mid April.

Before that, the creation of the new car park should have begun, and the installing of a new electric supply to the gildhouse. I wonder how many of you are aware that there is an archaeological site across the road from the ‘new' cemetery. Aerial photography highlighted some crop marks indicating enclosures. As a result, we have to have an archaeological watching brief while the works are in progress. As far as the project is concerned we hope that nothing turns up, or there could be an expensive delay!

Work is also going on to do the designs for the proposed interpretation boards and education pack. There will be a board at the top of the churchyard about the whole site and then another explaining the gildhouse closer to the lych gate. The education pack will support the planned school visits. For these we are hoping that the children will have the opportunity to dress up and learn about the use of the building over the centuries.

Talking of centuries, we now know how many we are looking at. You may remember that there was a dendrochronology test done on many of the timbers in the gildhouse back in November. This means that core samples were taken and then these compared with others from buildings with known dates. From this we know that our gildhouse was built in about 1550. Some of the trees were cut down in 1543, but some in 1558. We can't tell if the earlier date refers to a start date, or whether were the trees stored until about 1558, who knows? Either way, it is really good to have a clear idea of the age of our building. These 15 years saw 3 monarchs and the birth of William Skakespeare! Unfortunately, the two cores from the door couldn't be used, so we still don't know if the door is original.

Once work does start, you will realise that the gildhouse and its surrounds will be a building site with all the usual constraints and inconvenience. I hope everybody will understand, it will be worth it!


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