Conservation work begins on the medieval village of Barforth

Urgent repairs to three buildings that are the last traces of a lost medieval village in the English county of Durham are now underway, and this week there is a chance for the public to join the restoration experts at work.

The current conservation work at the deserted village of Barforth on the River Tees near Gainford will protect the 12th century St Lawrence’s Chapel, an unusual medieval dovecote, and a historic bridge from further deterioration. The three structures are the only remains of a once-bustling village and Natural England has provided funding to the landowner for conservation work to be carried out on the surviving buildings.

On Thursday 15th July, the Heritage Skills Initiative at North of England Civic Trust is giving members of the public a chance to see the work in progress and learn about the lime rendering techniques being used to conserve the historic dovecote at Barforth. The Heritage Skills Initiative event will run from 1pm-4pm on 15th July and will feature a walk and talk about the site and a chance to see the process of lime rendering (harling) on the dovecote. The event is free, but advance booking is essential.

Anyone interested in attending should email with their name and contact details. This event will provide an opportunity to see how materials such as lime, and techniques such as harling are being still used today on heritage and historic structures.

There will be a chance to see the work that has been done to consolidate Barforth’s chapel and bridge, and hear at first hand from the contractors and architect who are working on the site. Natural England is working with English Heritage and specialist historic building conservation experts Countryside Consultants of Alston to help consolidate and safeguard the structures at Barforth. Sympathetic conservation techniques, such as the use of lime mortar, are being used throughout the project by father-and-son builders, Mike and Gary Simpson of Heritage Consolidation Ltd, who specialize in the conservation of historic buildings.

Tom Gledhill, Natural England’s Historic Environment Advisor for the North East, said: “The remains of the village of Barforth provide a rare insight into the Medieval history of a Durham rural community and are an important historic feature of the Tees landscape. Natural England is delighted to be working with such an expert team to protect these buildings for the future. The Heritage Skills event will be a great opportunity for people interested in learning about traditional conservation techniques to meet the restoration experts and see them at work.”

Source: Natural England

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