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Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Urgent appeal to save buildings at ancient priory
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¬†(In February ICN will be running a feature on the Friars. In the meantime we are publishing this appeal) Two historical buildings at the Friars, in Aylesford, Kent, are in danger of collapse unless immediate repairs and restoration work is begun within the next few months. The Carmelite community needs nearly £1 million to restore the 15th century priory gatehouse and a rare 17th century wooden barn. Just two years ago, a major programme of work was completed on the 13th century Pilgrims Hall which had been in danger of slipping into the River Medway. The front of the hall was given new buttresses, using stone from the quarry that supplied the original building seven centuries earlier. At the same time, a river wall was built to protect the Friars from flooding. "We were just breathing a sigh of relief that all the work was over, when the alarming new report arrived from the structural engineers," said Fr Wilfrid McGreal, Prior. Unless remedial work was carried out very quickly, they were told, both buildings were in danger of collapse. The Gatehouse is currently home to Donum Dei, a community of women affiliated to the Carmelites who help the Friars in their work welcoming pilgrims and visitors. They also work with young people in the community. The barn is one of the last of its kind in Kent. Planning permission was given some time ago to convert it into a shelter for pilgrims and a resource for the local community, but if work is not begun soon, the local council will compulsorily purchase the Grade Two listed building. The Friars is a popular retreat centre. The Carmelite community who live there is also very involved in ecumenical, pastoral and community work throughout Kent. Originally established in 1215, the friars returned to Aylesford in 1949. If you would like to support the appeal write to Restoration 2000, The Friars, Aylesford, Kent ME20 7BX or visit their website at:
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