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Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Ancient abbey helps revive rural economy
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¬†An ancient Cisterican abbey - once the centre of a thriving community providing employment to hundreds of people, is once again helping to revive the local rural economy. Dore Abbey, in Hertfordshire, built by the Cistercians in 1147 is one of the oldest church buildings still in use in England. It is now an Anglican parish church. Much of the original building remains. Traces of 13th and 14th century paint traces show that the walls were once painted with colourful murals. Ten years ago, major structural problems were discovered, including a crumbling roof, leaky stonework, and unstable walls. "The future of Dore Abbey was in jeopardy" said Sir Neil Cossons, Chairman of English Heritage. "Without urgent repairs this splendid historic building, that has seen 850 years of uninterrupted worship, could close and fall into ruin." However, the local community set up a fundraising group and campaigned to save the abbey. Last week English Heritage stepped in with a pledge of more than £250,000 in funding. Sir Neil said: " We are delighted to be supporting this project with both grant aid and specialist advice. It is essential that buildings such as this world renowned Grade 1 listed church, which still encompasses the original 12th century Cistercian monastery, are repaired using high quality local materials that match those of the originals. The use of natural stone from local delves (small quarries) is a vital part of the character of our towns, villages and farmsteads. We have long championed the preservation of stone roofing ≠ one of the greatest traditional crafts. "For the third time in 850 years, the local community will benefit from large construction work at the Abbey. Local people are being trained in traditional techniques that date back hundreds of years, to extract and dress the stones for roofing. This enterprise provides alternative employment for a rural community rocked by the repercussions of Foot and Mouth. "Following restoration of the Abbey, many hundreds of other buildings in Herefordshire that need re-roofing and repairing with traditional stone will also benefit. It is a wonderful example of how building conservation and local small-scale industry can be a positive force for local development."
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