School’s Anglo-Saxon longhouse reopens after being targeted in arson attack

Children at West Earlham Junior School celebrate the opening of their rebuilt Saxon Longhouse after

Children at West Earlham Junior School celebrate the opening of their rebuilt Saxon Longhouse after the last one was destroyed by an arson attack. Headteacher Catrin Parry-Jones is helped to cut the ribbon by Kate Edwards (green jacket) of Edwards and Eve Cob Building who rebuilt the house.

Story-telling and hands-on history lessons were back on the curriculum as a fire-hit Anglo-Saxon longhouse was reopened.

Children at West Earlham Junior School celebrate the opening of their rebuilt Saxon Longhouse after

Children at West Earlham Junior School celebrate the opening of their rebuilt Saxon Longhouse after the last one was destroyed by an arson attack.

Children cheered at the West Earlham Junior School ceremony, after the structure was lovingly re-built by pupils and expert Kate Edwards.

Originally inspired by a visit to the Anglo-Saxon village in West Stow, Suffolk, in 2014, more than 60 students aged eight and nine initially helped to build the authentic longhouse, which was completed in December 2014.

Teacher Mark Hodder said: 'We took them to West Stow and asked them whether they would like to do something to develop the school grounds. They came up with the idea of creating our own Anglo-Saxon longhouse.'

At the time the children were so excited some cried when they heard the project could go ahead. But they were left distraught in April, when a heartless arson attack destroyed the structure, leaving just a shell.

The longhouse after the fire. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

The longhouse after the fire. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY


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Instead of letting it get them down, the determined pupils began again, and school governors gave year four permission to bring the longhouse back to life.

Now, together with Mrs Edwards, of Edwards and Eve Cobb Building, they have again put up the oak rafters, Douglas fir posts and cedar beams, mixed the cobb and created the walls – all topped off with revealing their dedicated work yesterday.

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Headteacher Catrin Parry-Jones said: 'It means so much to us as a school to be able to complete this project. So many people have been generous with their donations and time and it is fantastic to have this unique resource for our community.'

• Are you involved in a unique project? Email geraldine.scott@archant.co.uk

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