Estonian pupils help to preserve local heritage

GY Cemeteries project

GY Cemeteries project - Credit: Archant

Buildings conservation students from Estonia recently visited the Great Yarmouth area to share knowledge and skills, while helping out with local conservation projects.

Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust hosted the four students from Hiiumaa Vocational College, in Hiiumaa, an island on the western coast of Estonia.

The visit, funded by the EU, is part of the preservation trust's European partnership with the college, which aims to share knowledge and skills about traditional buildings conservation on a pan-European level.

The students lent a hand with work to conserve the most at risk sections of Yarmouth's medieval town wall – a year-long project being undertaken by local skilled craftspeople, employed through the preservation trust's new social enterprise company, Norfolk Conservation Ltd.

Yarmouth Borough Council secured £30,000 from Historic England, bolstering the council's £30,000 annual budget to repair and consolidate the Scheduled Ancient Monument, which dates to the 14th century and is the second best preserved medieval town wall in England, after York.

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Work is initially focused on the section of wall around Mariners' Road, South Yarmouth.

The students then moved to Yarmouth's historic Cemeteries, the site of the trust's nationally-acclaimed Cemeteries Project, which over two years saw volunteers work with the trust's network of experts to repair monuments and to learn buildings conservation skills.

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The Estonians worked alongside the preservation trust's staff and volunteers, plus expert stonemason John Briggs, of Medieval Masonry, to repair and conserve two memorials, including the elaborate chest tomb of Cufaude Davie, a druggist, magistrate and churchwarden at Great Yarmouth Minister, who died in 1851 aged 52.

They rounded off their visit by helping to conserve the medieval walls of Hopton Ruined Church, in Hopton. The preservation trust is working with Hopton Parish Council, which owns the landmark church, to lead a project to conserve and consolidate the grade II*-listed structure as a safe and maintained attractive ruin.

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