News in brief

News touching on the conservation of a 12th century church in Hertfordshire, the discovery of medieval structures at Berwick Infirmary, and the National Trust marking 125 years since the purchase of its first house.

Unearthing medieval Berwick

Medieval artefacts and structures have been uncovered in an excavation ahead of the construction of a new hospital in Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland. This will replace the existing Berwick Infirmary, which is currently situated within the medieval town walls.

Northern Archaeological Associates, who are working on behalf of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, have so far uncovered the remains of pottery, fish bones, stone yards, and wall structures. The finds are believed to date to c.AD 1100. It is hoped that further excavations and post-excavation analysis will illuminate more about the significance of these discoveries.

Conserving St Leonard’s Church

Conservation work has begun at the 12th-century Grade I-listed St Leonard’s Church in the village of Flamstead, Hertfordshire. The church is home to a series of important medieval wall paintings, as well as remarkable examples of medieval graffiti.

In 2017, an inspection of the church discovered the 15th-century timber roof structure of the nave was suffering severe decay, and was in danger of collapse. To raise the necessary funding for the repairs, local villagers formed the Flamstead Heritage Project. Then, in March 2020, it was announced that the National Lottery Heritage Fund would support the restoration. Each beam and rafter is now being assessed to discern whether any part can be saved, and the stonework windows will be replaced before the church’s reopening in September.

125 years of the National Trust

The National Trust is celebrating 125 years since the purchase of its first historic home: Alfriston Clergy House, on the South Downs in East Sussex. It was bought in 1896 for £10. The house would have been a grand dwelling at the time of its construction around AD 1399-1407, and served as the residence for Alfriston’s parish priest until the early 18th-century.

photo: National Trust Images, Marianne Majerus
photo: National Trust Images, Marianne Majerus

National Trust Curator George Roberts said: ‘The experience of conserving and finding a use for the Clergy House played an important role in the development of the newly formed, little-known National Trust. Had its efforts to purchase and restore the house failed, the Trust may never have acquired another building.’