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Revamp for Dereham 'treasure'

PUBLISHED: 12:43 08 July 2009 | UPDATED: 15:17 07 July 2010

A historic architectural treasure in Dereham has had a £15,000 revamp.

Restoration work has been completed on Bishop Bonner's Cottage in Dereham - a 500-year-old building that is the oldest domestic building in the town and which now houses Dereham's museum.

A historic architectural treasure in Dereham has had a £15,000 revamp.

Restoration work has been completed on Bishop Bonner's Cottage in Dereham - a 500-year-old building that is the oldest domestic building in the town and which now houses Dereham's museum.

The project, which took about six weeks to complete, was funded by Dereham Town Council which leases the building to Dereham Antiquarian Society.

The work included removing and replacing a brick plinth with softer bricks and lime mortar to stop problems with dampness, rebuilding part of the frontage, filling in the cracks and limewashing the building.

Bob Davies, vice-chairman of Dereham Antiquarian Society which runs the museum, was delighted with the revamp and said it was especially important that the cottage was well-maintained because of its historical significance to the town.

The building survived the two major fires in Dereham in 1581 and 1679.

Mr Davies said: “We are extremely pleased with the quality of the work that has been done. It is marvellous and Bishop Bonner's Cottage looks beautiful.”

The cottage was built in 1502 and is named after Bishop Bonner, rector of Dereham, who is said to have been the man responsible for burning more than 200 heretics during the bloodthirsty reign of Queen Mary.

It is also one of only a few buildings in the country to have a coloured pargetting (a type of ornamental plasterwork) decorating its exterior. This decoration dates from about 1600.

Over the years it has been the subject of a number of restoration projects, including in the 1960s when one of its doors was filled in and replaced with a window by bricklayer Joe Head who used to be the landlord of The Fleece Public House in Dereham.

Dereham's Town Museum is having a special open day at Bishop Bonner's Cottage on Saturday, August 8, with free entry from 11am until 4pm.

It has two new exhibitions, one about kitchens in the early 1900s and another about how Bishop Bonner's Cottage was built.

It is also looking for volunteers to help run the museum and help with the archives. For more information call 01362 692009.

Until September the museum is open on Tuesdays and Thursday 2pm until 4.30pm, Fridays 11am until 2pm, and Saturdays 11am until 4pm. Entry costs £1 for adults, 50p for youngsters aged five to 16, and children under five are free.

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