New lease of life for former Norfolk school

The School, Raveningham.PHOTO: Nick Butcher

The School, Raveningham.PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

It was once a school that catered for 80 pupils.

Apart from occasional use, it has largely been closed for more than 50 years - however a new lease of life is now being given to the School House, Raveningham.

Residents, who live on the estate, have joined forces to launch the Raveningham Community Group. And over the past year, they have got together to take on the School House site and renovate it to provide a place where the community can gather together.

Eric Wareham, chairman the Raveningham Community Group, said: 'Raveningham is one of the few villages without a village hall, a Parish Council or a pub. Most residents are tenants of the estate, and so we decided to launch this exciting community group.

'School House closed in 1963 and while some people have used it over the years, we wondered whether it could be possible to use the building as a community centre - allowing people to get together socially, through clubs, activities, and also provide a place of learning. We approached Sir Nicholas Bacon, and he has kindly offered the old School House as the venue.'

Already over the past year, a few events have been held to showcase the facility as 'a hub for the village,' according to Mr Wareham.

And now, as further events are planned, the Raveningham Community Group is kickstarting a fundraising drive to improve the facilities provided and the running costs.

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Mr Wareham said: 'This is a new and exciting project and we now hold a once-a-month pop-up pub - called The Raven Inn - which sees about 20 to 30 people attend. We held a harvest supper, which attracted our best turnout of about 80 to 100 people.'

Two events are being held today (Saturday, December 10). A Christmas Singing Workshop will run from 10am until 1.30pm at School House, Raveningham for anyone interested. This is run by Toft Monks resident, Stephen Amer. The cost is £8, with tickets and details available via 07909 510976 or

And this evening (Saturday) the Raveningham Community Group will present a concert by 'Pearl in the Egg' Historical Musicians at Raveningham Church. The musicians have played at prestigious venues around the country, including Hampton Court and the Tower of London. They have played for the famous novelist and historian Alison Weir who described their music as 'The best evocation of twelfth-century music that I have ever heard.'

Featuring medieval music from the 12th to 16th Century, doors open at 7.30pm for this concert. Tickets cost £5, which includes one free drink.

Mr Wareham added: 'Many people in Raveningham expressed an interest in getting the residents together as a community, and the group is now managing it as a social centre and community hall.'

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