Generous Elmswell residents help restore Victorian village ‘gem’

Members of the Elmswell Firefighters join members of the community at the refurbished bier house in Elmswell Cemetery ANL-141223-134051001
Members of the Elmswell Firefighters join members of the community at the refurbished bier house in Elmswell Cemetery ANL-141223-134051001
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A ‘long-forgotten gem’ in Elmswell has been restored to its former Victorian glory - following generous donations from residents.

The former bier shelter, built in 1904 to house the bier trolley which carried coffins from church to graveside, had fallen into disrepair over the past few decades.

However, a campaign by the community to restore it drummed up unprecedented support, with a public subscription signed by residents raising most of the £3,000 needed for the project.

Elmswell Parish Council clerk Peter Dow said: “The motivation was to save this very valuable community asset.

“This was a little gem long forgotten in the village which has now been restored to its former glory.

“Elmswell does not have a lot of obvious heritage, so all the little bits we do have are more valuable.”

The project was undertaken by local builder Colin Lomax of CJ Contractors, using many original matierals, and the finished building was unveiled on December 10 by the granddaughter of its builder, who still lives in the village.

The shelter will be used as an exhibition space, and members of the community including the Millennium History Group have further plans for it.

Those who donated to the project are commemorated on a plaque with other benefactors the Elmswell Firefighters, Mid Suffolk District and Suffolk County Council, and Waitrose, which donated through its Community Matters fund.