£85k grant given to Guildhall renovation

DELIGHTED: Jane Gosling, manager of the Guildhall in Lavenham, which is planning a �160,000 upgrade.
DELIGHTED: Jane Gosling, manager of the Guildhall in Lavenham, which is planning a �160,000 upgrade.

Ambitious plans for a major refurbishment of one of Lavenham’s most prominent buildings have received significant funding.

The Grade I-listed Guildhall in Market Place is to be handed an £85,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The money will go towards updating the timber framed building’s museum displays in a project which is anticipated to cost £160,000.

Jane Gosling, manager at the National Trust-owned property, said the grant would enable the building to begin a new phase in its life.

“We are all obviously delighted and very grateful to have been given the grant,” she said.

“The plan is to freshen up the upper rooms and give the museum, which is all about local life, an update to make it more user-friendly.”

The Guildhall of Corpus Christi was built in the 1520s using profits from the village’s wool trade. Over the centuries it has been used as a prison, workhouse and a chapel. It was taken over by the National Trust in 1951 and its museum displays the story of the building and life in Lavenham.

Robyn Llewellyn, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in the East of England, said it was this rich history which prompted the grant.

“The history of Lavenham and the stories of its people are embedded in this wonderful building,” he said. “We are delighted to support this project that is a great way of bringing the interesting tales to life.”

Mrs Gosling said that despite the grant, there was still work to be done and a garden party for villagers was being planned.

“There is still fundraising to do and we have had lots of people coming forward with ideas,” she said.

“The building is very much a part of Lavenham and we want that to continue. We would like the community to play a part in shaping its future.”

Mrs Gosling said she hoped the completed work – scheduled to start when the building closes to the public in November – would appeal to a wide spectrum of people.

“It is exciting that this will become a reality as it has been a dream for several years,” she said.

The project is due to be finished by spring next year.