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Medieval fur lodge returned to glory

PUBLISHED: 20:03 23 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:54 03 March 2010

NEARLY seven hundred years after it was built, one of Suffolk's oldest buildings has been painstaking restored to its former glory.

The warrener's lodge in Mildenhall Woods, which dates back to the 1320s, officially opened yesterday after a three-year-renovation project costing nearly £50,000.

NEARLY seven hundred years after it was built, one of Suffolk's oldest buildings has been painstaking restored to its former glory.

The warrener's lodge in Mildenhall Woods, which dates back to the 1320s, officially opened yesterday after a three-year-renovation project costing nearly £50,000.

The once abandoned two-storey cottage, which was on English Heritage's Buildings At Risk Register prior to the restoration project, has now become the central attraction of a new 2.5km walk through the forest.

"We had this valuable building on the at risk register and we felt we had to do something," said Frances Evershed, of Forest Enterprise.

"The lodge was falling into disrepair, and was overgrown with brambles on both the inside and out.

"This is only the second lodge renovated in this area, so we felt it was important to preserve what is now a recognisable historic monument."

The Friends of Thetford Forest spearheaded the project, with chairman Anne Mason saying the building was a vital part of Breckland's history.

She said: "The friends promote the saving of architectural features within the forest because there are so few. There is only this warrener's lodge and another at Thetford Warren left out of 20 that were in Breckland. It is of great historical importance.

"A warrener lived in this to oversee the management of the warren during a time when rabbits were a luxury item, and farmed for meat and fur."

The restoration project was joint funded, with £21,700 coming from English Heritage, a further £22,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £5000 from Forest Heath District Council.

Forest Enterprise, the management arm of landowners the Forestry Commission, worked in partnership with the Friends and marked out a walk around the site, put in information panels and a car park off the B1112 to attract more visitors.

On Bank Holiday Monday, people will have a rare chance to go into the lodge during a specially organised fun day, running between 11am and 4pm.

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