Anger as arson attack destroys Anglo-Saxon longhouse built by pupils at West Earlham Junior School

Arsonists have burnt down the Anglo-Saxon longhouse built by pupils at West Earlham Junior School up

Arsonists have burnt down the Anglo-Saxon longhouse built by pupils at West Earlham Junior School upsetting pupils including(l to r) Mark Powley, Neli Liddiment, Charlie Tuttle and Ellie Willis.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

Distraught and angry children are today coming to terms with a heartless arson attack that reduced an Anglo-Saxon longhouse they built at their school to a burned out shell.

Arsonists have burnt down the Anglo-Saxon longhouse built by pupils at West Earlham Junior School.PH

Arsonists have burnt down the Anglo-Saxon longhouse built by pupils at West Earlham Junior School.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

Pupils at West Earlham Junior School had written to governors for permission to build the structure following a visit to West Stow, an Anglo-Saxon village near Thetford.

It has become a much-loved venue for story-telling and history lessons since its completion in December 2014, but children were stunned after arriving yesterday morning to find it destroyed by a blaze.

The school caretaker phoned headteacher Catrin Parry-Jones at about 6.40pm on Monday, and she arrived to find two crews of firefighters putting out the fire that gutted the wood and straw building.

She said: 'They have been incredibly shocked. They looked distraught and quite angry that somebody had, in a stroke, taken away all their hard work.'

Happier times: Builder Kate Edwards with pupils and the finished longhouse at West Earlham Junior Sc

Happier times: Builder Kate Edwards with pupils and the finished longhouse at West Earlham Junior School. Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk


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Mrs Parry-Jones said the children who built the longhouse had been proud to leave a legacy for the generations that followed them, and the plan was for new children to add to it each year.

Bert Bremner, who represents the area on Norwich City Council, said: 'All I can say is what a positive thing it was, and how sad it is that anybody could have thought in these terms.'

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Police said they were following up a number of lines of enquiry.

Asked about the arsonist, Mrs Parry-Jones said: 'I don't think they can possibly understand about the damage they have done because it's not just to the house.

Firefighters putting out the fire that engulfed the Anglo-Saxon longhouse at West Earlham Junior Sch

Firefighters putting out the fire that engulfed the Anglo-Saxon longhouse at West Earlham Junior School - Credit: Archant

It's to our school as a community too, because they have taken away forever the children's hard work, and their hopes. I don't think they can possibly understand.'

Despite the shock, she said the school would rally together.

'In some ways we need to re-build', she said, 'because it's not just about re-building the house, but re-building the children's faith that when they work hard at something, we are not going to let that be destroyed.

'That's the big lesson, that someone has come along and messed it up for a little while, but in the end the school and the community will work together to make sure it's replaced, and have something that they can look back on and be incredibly proud of again. I think that's really important.'

Anyone with information should contact the police on 101, quoting reference number 36/30479/16.

Do you have an education story? Email martin.george@archant.co.uk

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