Friends of Milton Regis Court Hall
The Friends of Milton Regis Court Hall was formed in early 2011 by a group of people with a common appreciation of preserving our heritage, notably the Court Hall in Milton Regis, a building that stands proudly as an icon of the streetscape after about 560 years. Built as Milton’s civic centre in c.1450, its importance is that whilst at one time most towns would have had such a building, today there is only one other surviving example in Kent at Fordwich near Canterbury. This is why it is so important to preserve and maintain this historic building.
The story so farThe Court Hall is owned by Swale Borough Council but in today’s climate of tight budgets and other economic constraints, the old medieval building is low on the list of the Council’s priorities. And so it was agreed with Swale Council in February 2011 that the Friends of Milton Regis Court Hall be formed to help raise money through grants and other such funding to undertake essential repairs and maintenance, and to further find an acceptable use for the old building. Finding an acceptable use for the building once the renovation work has been completed is a crucial factor when applying for grant funding; this alone is a deciding factor. Throughout 2011 and 2012, meetings were held with Council officers who are most enthusiastic and supportive of our endeavours. One of the first major hurdles to be crossed was to convince the Council we are serious in our intent. Our aims will not be achieved overnight and having convinced the Council we are a bona fide organization, a sub-committee was set up to write our constitution.
We next had to determine the structural condition of the building, for which a specialist architect would be needed. Initially a councillor ‘volunteered’ the services of someone who has previously undertaken work of this nature in the borough but before he could be approached he was in Japan on business when a tsunami struck and he was needed there for many months. We waited for news for several months before we had to reject that offer and instead, accept an offer from Friends member, Dave Fletcher, whose son-in-law was equally qualified to do the work for free. At that stage the Friends did not have a bank account, let alone any money. This initial building survey showed that although a certain amount of remedial work needed to be undertaken, the overall condition of the structure was not as bad as was first feared. Next, a full survey detailing the cost of the work was commissioned and it confirmed the findings of the earlier preliminary report.
The group was delighted towards the end of 2011 to hear that the Council for Kentish Archaeology, in recognizing what the Friends are trying to achieve, awarded us £200 as the recipients of their new Jonathon Horne Award for Preservation. Our chairman, Mike Baldwin attended the CKA’s winter conference, held at Canterbury Christchurch University where he was presented with the cheque by KCC Cllr Paulina Stockwell.
The work beginsEarly in 2012 Friends member Dave Fletcher suggested that the first job we should be looking at was to make the roof weather proof. Over the years several tiles had slipped and rain was penetrating the building. Dave was able to obtain sufficient Kentish peg tiles for the job and Swale Council agreed to undertake the work.
And now, in 2013, a formal business plan is in place and work can begin in reinstating this fine old building back into a museum dedicated to Milton’s past. But first we need a dedicated membership to help with this work.
Subscription ratesIf you would like to join the Friends of Milton Regis Court Hall, the membership secretary is Paul David who can be contacted on 01795 471876.
Annual subscriptions are as follows:
Single Adult £7.50 ; Family £10; Concessions £5; Junior membership £2.50; Corporate Membership £150; Life Membership £100.