Javascript Menu by Archive 15 December 2005 - The Re-Opening
Church House, South Tawton, Devon, UK





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Archive 15


The Official Re-Opening      Pete Kilgannon 5th December 2005

The 30th November, St. Andrew's Day, was chosen for the official re-opening of Church House because that, the church's saint's day, would have been one of the two major 'Church Ales' days (the other being Whitsun) at the time of it's building in 1490. 'Church Ales' were, at that time, a jolly good way for the community to raise money to pay for the candles, cloths and statues etc. used in their church, while, at the same time, having a good time, feasting and socialising.

Many locals, media people and heritage experts converged on South Tawton to look at the results of a lot of hard work and the expenditure of a third of a million pounds, to conserve Church House for future generations.

Blacksmith Dave Denford walks past the railings he constructed
The Chairman, the Vicar and the Architect wait to greet arrivals
Interpretation panels
The ground floor hall
Visitors had the opportunity to walk around, read the historical details on the interpretation panels, view the renovated food preparation area and toilet facilities, inspect the historic sooted thatch and maybe take photos before the ceremonies began.
Taking photographs
Inspecting the 500 year old thatch layer
One of the repaired granite mullions
The new food preparation area
Some members of the local press
The upper banquetting hall
In the upper hall, Annabelle Reynolds played her harp whilst the Wren Trust prepared to entertain. In the small first floor room, a video of the local area and it's Dartmoor setting was showing. Refreshments were being prepared for guests after the official opening ceremony. And mostly people just stood around and chatted.
Paul Wilson of the Wren Trust and harpist Annabelle Reynolds
Annabelle Reynolds playing her harp
Refreshments awaiting the guests
View of the upper hall
Irene Madders chats with Michael Thayer
David Youle explains a point
Two of the most important people in the restoration, historian Cynthia Gaskell Brown (left) and Deborah Griffiths, DNPA Head of Archaeology. By 3pm, the lower hall was filled with visitors.
Cynthia Gaskell Brown with her camera
Deborah Griffiths DNPA Head of Archeology
The previous vicar
Guests arriving
Annabelle Reynolds - harpist
Barry Woods
With everyone gathered in the lower hall, the Wren Trust started the proceedings with a rendering of 'John Barleycorn', with the audience joining in the chorus. Then John Christian, the Committee Chairman, introduced Deborah Griffiths who spoke of the uniqueness of Church House, after which she was presented with a bouquet.
The Wren Trust sing 'John Barleycorn'
John Christian introduces Debbie Griffiths
Debbie Griffiths
Receiving a bouquet
John then introduced Adrian Tinniswood of the Heritage Lottery Fund who gave a very impassioned speech about community conservation. Then David Youle, the Project Manager, thanked everyone involved with the project and the gathering retired upstairs to enjoy some refreshment.
Adrian Tinniswood
David Youle
Meg Wolton, local historian among the audience
David Youle's speech

  Further Information
Please contact David Youle

          Phone      01837 840418