Restoration works on town museum paused until spring 2021

Bishop Bonner's Cottage Museum. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Bishop Bonner's Cottage Museum. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Repairs to one of Dereham’s oldest buildings to resolve recurring damp problems are being put on hold for the winter.

Bishop Bonner's cottage in Dereham.Photo: Denise Bradley

Bishop Bonner's cottage in Dereham.Photo: Denise Bradley - Credit: ©Archant Photographic 2009

Bishop Bonner’s Cottage, on St Withburga Lane, began being restored to its former glory - minus some damp - at the start of 2020.

Dereham Town Council was given permission by Breckland Council to repair and restore the Grade II listed building, which is widely known for its thatched roof and lime washed rendered walls.

The works hope to repair a concrete kerb and channel drain adjacent to the north gable, remove cement mortar and strip modern paint and re-decorating with breathable paint to approved colour scheme.

While carrying out work, the council found issues with the pargeting as it was more fragile than anticipated.

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A spokesperson for DTC said: “Work on Bishop Bonners Cottages was progressing well, but was halted. Work other than the pargeting will be completed shortly.

“The pargeting turned out to be more fragile than anticipated with much of it being held together with plastic type paint, once the paint was removed there was little to hold some of the features to the wall.

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“The Historic Building’s Officer at Breckland Council has visited the site and is not unduly concerned.

“The delay will mean that the pargeting will need to be stabilised over the winter with the use of a sacrificial lime wash and work completed in the spring 2021.

“The council is likely to be charged contractual penalties for the contract being halted, although this is not expected to be significant.”

READ MORE: Iconic town museum could be repaired to solve damp issuesOriginally three cottages, Bishop Bonner’s Cottage is the oldest surviving domestic building in Dereham and was preserved during the great town fires of 1581 and 1679 and later when bombs were dropped in 1915.

It takes its name from Bishop Bonner, the rector of neighbouring St Nicholas’s Church during the 1530s.

The building is presently used as Dereham’s museum of local history, run by Dereham Heritage Trust.

Previous works took place in 2008 to try and improve internal damp.

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