Cottage's unique plasterwork to be painted white

Bishop Bonner's Cottage Museum will reopen to the public. Photo: Denise Bradley

Bishop Bonner's Cottage Museum will reopen to the public in summer. Photo: Denise Bradley - Credit: ©Archant Photographic

The look of one of Dereham's landmark buildings is set to change as part of restoration works. 

Town councillors agreed that the pargetting on Bishop Bonner's Cottage Museum in St Withburga Lane should be painted white - thought to have been its original colour. 

A report by Susan Walker on the colour of the pargetting - the elaborate plasterwork decoration that adorns the cottage facade - was presented to the council's heritage and open spaces meeting on March 23 by Dr Peter Wade-Martins - a trustee at Dereham Heritage Trust.

A screenshot from the Dereham Town Council's heritage and open spaces meeting on March 23.

A screenshot from the Dereham Town Council's heritage and open spaces meeting on March 23, which was held via Zoom. - Credit: Dereham Town Council

Dr Wade-Martins said: "Bishop Bonner's is an incredibly important building for the history of Dereham. It's the oldest building apart from the church as far as I know and it's something we must treasure.

"I think it only survived because when the pargetting was put on it made the cottage so extraordinary that nobody wanted to demolish it." 

Dr Wade-Martins said the pargetting had been coloured several times over the past decades. He said: "Each time it was repainted the colours got more garish.

"Our committee has met a couple of times to decide this. Opinions were slightly divided but I think the majority opinion was that we wanted it to be left white."

Eric Head doing some restoration work on Bishop Bonner s Cottage in Dereham many years ago. For: Em

Eric Head doing some restoration work on Bishop Bonner s Cottage in Dereham many years ago. - Credit: Archant Library

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The 500-year-old cottage is undergoing works to address a problem with damp and will also be lime washed before its anticipated reopening in summer. 

Councillors agreed that the pargetting should be left white, but said the public should be made aware that this was being done for preservation and historical reasons, rather than as a cost-saving measure. 

Councillor Linda Monument said: "It came as a complete surprise to me to learn that the beautiful colour pattern wasn't at all original. We know we're going to be wrong if we do it in colour, so if we can't get it right, let's stick with white."

A picture of Bishop Bonner's Cottage in Dereham, taken at some time before 1906. Picture: Supplied b

A picture of Bishop Bonner's Cottage in Dereham, taken at some time before 1906, which shows the pargetting painted white at that time. - Credit: Supplied by Peter Wade-Martins

Fellow councillor Philip Duigan said: "My view would be to probably take the historic view and leave it white."

Councillor Philip Morton added: "It's going to be more accurate, and in keeping with what the building should be. It's the only building we’ve got which has got that sort of pargeting at all."





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