A social enterprise that spent 10 years restoring Orchard Barn in Ringshall will soon be moving on to its next community building project – resurrecting an ancient house.
The Orchard Barn environmental education (OBee) Community Interest Company has been granted planning permission to reinstate the Suffolk Long House, adjacent to Orchard Barn, using traditional techniques.
Sarah Partridge, its project co-ordinator and managing director, said she was ‘absolutely over the moon’ to have won planning approval.
“It’s been 10 years since we started the original barn project and this is phase two – it’s been a flat-pack ruin in the undergrowth for a long time,” she added.
Built in the 1580s after being commissioned by ‘someone of status’, possibly Sir Thomas Gresham who owned three Ringshall manor house, the property was last occupied in the 1930s and is thought to have fallen over after succumbing to a prolonged period of no maintenance.
This summer, volunteers will start working on the site of the ‘composted cottage’ rescuing, where possible, the timbres which have spent decades hidden in the undergrowth, and laying the foundations.
The entire two-storey reconstruction is likely to take at least three years to complete and will provide OBee with further training opportunities for its specialist courses.
“Not many people get a hand in reinstating a long house so we think it will be very popular,” said Ms Patridge.
She added: “It will provide us with excellent training material for timber frame courses. There are a wealth of timber frame buildings in our county and an increasing number of home-owners and builders keen to learn how to undertake authentic repairs.
“It is a wonderful opportunity to get hands-on with local history and help bring this ruin back to life.”
Once up and running, the first floor of the house will be used to accommodate people who travel distances to take part in the courses offered while the ground floor will be used for additional educational class space.
OBee’s traditional timber frame repair and construction courses on April 25 to 29 and June 27 to July 1 will involve working on parts of the old house. Find out more at www.orchardbarn.org.uk.