Gatehouse restored at priory
AN impressive monastic gatehouse which surprised archaeologists with its unexpected secrets has been restored to its medieval glory.For hundreds of years the mysteries of the porchway to the spectacular Binham Priory in north Norfolk lay hidden from the naked eye, blotted out by a reinforced concrete pen which bricked in the ancient walls.
AN impressive monastic gatehouse which surprised archaeologists with its unexpected secrets has been restored to its medieval glory.
For hundreds of years the mysteries of the porchway to the spectacular Binham Priory in north Norfolk lay hidden from the naked eye, blotted out by a reinforced concrete pen which bricked in the ancient walls.
But when archaeologists working on a £900,000 conservation project at the Benedictine monastery stripped the walls bare and uncovered two medieval windows dating back to the 13th century they knew the discovery would provide a rare glimpse into the past.
Historians are now wondering whether the two windows were part of a room possibly inhabited by a monk who would have kept a watchful eye on all people, animals and carts entering or leaving the monastery.
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As the repair work was completed in December, thanks to a £50,000 English Heritage grant, visitors are now invited to see the gatehouse and the site which witnessed moments of upheaval from the earliest days of the Norman Conquest through to the dissolution of monasteries at the Reformation.
Dr Peter Wade-Martin, director of the Norfolk Archaeological Trust, said the completion of the repairs to the gatehouse was an important step, but insisted that more work had to be done to enhance the site.
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The grant was also used for other repairs, including landscaping around the gatehouse, and it will make a significant contribution towards other works to the precinct wall later this year.
The project, which was awarded £648,500 by the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2007, also involves laying paths to the priory remains and the church, building a porch in the ruined north aisle of the church, providing a new service building containing lavatories, a display area and refreshment point.
The next phase of the project, due to be completed by the end of the year, will include a new interpretation scheme of four illustrated panels covering the develop-ment of Binham Priory, its history, buildings and monastic life.