The Gildhouse Story
A timely bequest and a generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, together with other smaller grants and a great deal of local fundraising, made a new restoration project possible, but before the actual work could begin a great deal of research was necessary: the project required a full structural survey, a historical study, a conservation plan, provision for full accessibility and an interpretation plan. There is little written or printed contemporary evidence of the Gildhouse’s history, but the work done in the early 2000s has provided a much clearer picture of its long life.
Under the able leadership of architect Jonathan Rhind, work started in May 2007, with specialist craftsmen working in line with the building’s Grade I listed status. Over the next six months the building was made sound, with access and all facilities updated to a high standard. The restoration also involved installation of a modern kitchen, new toilets with disabled access, a hearing loop for the hearing impaired, and a heating system throughout the building.
We now have a magnificent Feasting Hall with a well-equipped kitchen upstairs while downstairs there is a smaller meeting room and a simple kitchen. Both floors have disabled facilities. Old and possibly original features have been carefully preserved: in one corner of the ground floor there is even a completely preserved little stable where the schoolmistress used to tether her pony, but to bring transport requirements up to date there is also a new and much needed car park at the top of the cemetery.
So after 450 years the Gildhouse is well equipped to enter the next phase of its life. We hope it will be used by the people of Poundstock and further afield for many more years to come.
To our delight the restoration work has been recognised by several awards, the most outstanding of which was the Europa Nostra Award for Outstanding Heritage Achievement. This prize is competed for by a wide variety of projects from across Europe, but against all odds our little Gildhouse won a Laureate as one of the top sixteen projects and became one of three Grand Prix winners in 2008 – a tremendous honour.
The general overheads and maintenance of such an old building are not small. To that end we run monthly talks, several musical events, a plant sale, a quiz night, and a Craft Fayre and Pumpkin Festival to raise funds to support the Gildhouse. In addition young and old groups alike enjoy being Tudors for a day or listening to heritage talks, and the Feasting Hall provides a wonderful venue for small, intimate wedding receptions and other celebrations. All the income from these helps to provide for this precious and much-loved building.
If you would like to know more about the history of the building the full-colour guide book is packed with information, and one of our souvenir mugs will remind you of your visit. All profits go towards the Gildhouse, so this is a great way to help with the preservation of this lovely and atmospheric place.
The Gildhouse is open every Wednesday between Easter and the end of October for people to come and explore; entry is free. Friendly stewards are always on hand and will be glad to answer questions and provide a cup of tea, again all free. We look forward to welcoming you!
Structural Survey , September 2004
Jonathan Rhind Architects
Access Survey, October 2004
The Sensory Trust
Conservation Plan, February 2005
Keystone Historic Buildings Consultants
Interpretation Proposals, January 2006