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Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Aylesford: restoration work ready to begin
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¬†Restoration work on the 15th century Gatehouse at The Friars in Aylesford, Kent is due to start next Monday. Just over two years ago, the Gatehouse and the North Barn at the Carmelite priory were found to be in danger of collapse. Fr Wilfrid McGreal, Prior, said: "Thanks to generous grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage, and many other generous benefactors, the work can now begin. "In the first instance the Gatehouse is in need of stabilisation to prevent the south-west tower becoming detached from the main building. Once secured work to the windows, stonework, roof and gates can get underway." The Restoration Appeal was launched in February 2001 with a target of just under one million pounds - £350,000 to stabilise and repair the Gatehouse and £600,000 to renovate the derelict 17th century North Barn. Since that time costs have soared and the current total required for completing the two projects is £1,450,431. Thanks to various fund raising activities and grants from the Heritage Lottery, English Heritage, WREN, Groundworks (Aylesford Newsprint), Kirby Laing Foundation, HRH The Prince of Wales, John Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust, Mr Pratt Boorman Family Foundation, Colyer Fergusson Charitable Trust, Cobtree Charity Trust Ltd, Garfield Weston Foundation and Middlerigg Nominees Ltd as well as donations from many very generous people, £1,190,500 has so far been raised, enabling the work to commence. The first priority with the Gatehouse is to stabilise the structure and tie in the tower. The work has been awarded to PAYE Stonework & Restoration Ltd. PAYE have vast experience in restoration work, having been part of the Pilgrims Hall project here at The Friars in 1999 as well as having worked on the Houses of Parliament, St James's Palace, Windsor Castle, the Tower of London as well as Holy Trinity Church in Maidstone. The Gatehouse project is due for completion in September 2003 and work will then switch to the North Barn in October 2003 for completion in June 2004. The Gatehouse, the traditional entranceway to The Friars, is home to a missionary family, the Donum Dei who help at the priory. The Donum Dei have temporarily moved from the Gatehouse into the Priory itself for the duration of the works. The North Barn, once completed will provide shelter for pilgrims, school groups and other visitors to The Friars and will also be a much needed meeting space for local groups and charities. However, Fr Wilfrid says, The Friars is still in need of the final £250,000 required to complete these exciting projects and so the fundraising goes on. For more information about Aylesford visit: http://www.carmelite.org/aylesford/index.htm
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