Excitement mounts over new hand-carved oak sign for Great Barton

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A ‘marvellous’ new hand-carved and hand-painted village sign will be unveiled at a special ceremony in Great Barton later this month.

Carved from oak by a Haughley man who has also worked on St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Windsor Castle, London’s Globe Theatre and the House of Commons, those involved are confident it will impress.

As with the first sign, erected in 1977 to commemorate Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee, the new one is based on a Mime painting called The Gleaners and is of a woman collecting stray ears of corn after the harvest - ideal for a village whose name means barley enclosure/settlement.

Woodcarver Robert Lewis has also included the present and the original seventh century Anglo Saxon name for the village, Bertuna, at the base of the sign.

Andrew Hill, who is a member of the parish council, and his wife, Anne-Marie, suggested Robert for the job as they have known him for several years and have been impressed by his work.

Anne-Marie, one of only a small number of people to have seen the completed carving, said she was amazed by the detail in it, from the hair and fingernails to the slippers.

“It’s magnificent, terrific, incredible,” she said.

“Everyone who has seen it, and the parish council are pretty much the only ones, they’ve given a gasp - the carving is out of this world.”

Artist Diana Burnard was tasked with painting the carving, which took her around four weeks to complete.

She said: “It was a beautiful piece of woodcarving and it was a real pleasure to do. It went really well and I’m really pleased with it.”

The project has received almost £6,400 of joint funding from St Edmundsbury Borough Council, Suffolk county councillor Becky Hopfensperger’s locality budget, Havebury Housing Partnership, Great Barton Parish Council and nine organisations within the village that donated from their 2013 ‘village of the year award’ prize money.

Andrew said: “It’s been a long journey but an enjoyable one and I think it was worth while.

“When it’s unveiled people will say ‘wow’ and I’m not kidding, they will.”

The unveiling will take place at 2pm on March 21 near the village hall entrance in Elms Close.