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THIS WEEK Coming to stay and spend in Wealden


COMMUNITY Go ahead couple celebrate first year in business in the Bay


LATEST ON JOBSBOARD BAY HOTEL AND BAR: Vacancies: kitchen assistant and waiting staff

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image credit: Jason Rolf: Mint House, outline ground floor plan: East Sussex historic buildings record (research and dissemination)

Jason Rolf, the owner of the Mint House site in Pevensey, has employed the services of Deborah Gardner as a historic building consultant to develop a business plan for the nineteenth century outbuildings at the back of the site. Her next task is to begin work on a plan for the historic Mint House. A community utilisation of part of the ground floor would return the Mint House to roots as a possible guildhall that extend back to 1480.

Talking to Bay Life (30 September) Jason told us about latest work completed at the Mint House. He said, “a full archaeological survey, archaeological drawings, a 3D radar scan of the complete building have been completed”.

As excitement increases about what has been found, he added, “a lot of interesting history has been uncovered and it appears that the central building was possibly built as a Guildhall around 1480 with a detached service block, one of the few remaining examples in the UK. There is also evidence of some medieval structures which may have been taken from Pevensey Castle main hall in the late 15th and early 16th centuries”.

The news that the Mint House may have national significance, “built as a Guildhall around 1480 with a detached service block, one of the few remaining examples in the UK” is likely to draw interest amongst architectural historians.

Jason detailed to Bay Life that “the next step is to carefully repair any structural problems, starting with the roof and chimney which are being investigated by historic timber specialists in a few weeks, and then we can consider suitable uses for the building. As you know, I want this to remain as a commercial site if at all possible and given the provenance it would be great if some of it could be used for the local community”.

As excitement builds about the project, what appears to be emerging is the possibility that part of the ground floor of the historic Mint Hose may be given over to community utilisation.

That would be an exciting prospect for the village, something that would add a new dimension to the visitor experience to the historic location, with Pevensey castle. the Court House and Museum and the Mint House forming a day experience that would reach a wider visitor audience.

In a further communication this week, Jason explained, “I will let the architect know the plans on the ground floor and see what she thinks is workable”.

Architect, Deborah Gardner, has already worked on plans for the nineteenth century outbuildings. The application, for nine business units to Wealden Council, has a heritage and design statement that extends to 30 pages.

Our view with the application is that we are seeing the most sensitive and informed documentation for any major project in the locality in the last ten years. The understanding of the historical, social and economic context is impeccable.

She is perhaps one of the finest specialists in her field in the locality. She has worked as Contracts Administrator on behalf of English Heritage and numerous monuments within East Sussex & Kent. In 2012, she launched her own company Her work base is in Bexhill.

In the ten years that we have been looking at building applications to Wealden Council, some of which we have dismissed as an embarrassment to the locality, we have moved from the sublime to the ridiculous in that time. In particular some of the latest development plans, have bordered on the barely literate in our view, in consideration of the historical and social setting of the buildings.

The work with the Mint House project is of a different calibre in the entirety, and in our view, to be applauded.

Having worked with the application to Wealden Council to convert the outbuildings at the site, the prospect that Deborah Gardner will now work on an application that concerns the ground floor of the Historic Mint House is positive news for the village.

Entrepreneur Jason Rolf, is to be congratulated for his approach to the Mint House project. The ambition and challenge with the Mint House project is an immense task. His employment of Deborah Gardner sets a gold seal on the project.

His creative vision and dedication is a testament to his commitment to the historic village of Pevensey.

The prospects for Pevensey with the development of the Mint House project will make for an interesting time for the village.

The project begins by aiming to breathe new economic life into the nineteenth century buildings at the back of the Mint House.

We may see the back of the Mint House populated by some small creative industries, to include perhaps, some small outfits specialising in fields like the digital arts.

The right settings make clusters for like minded businesses. And what a historic setting. A cluster of such small 21st century creative companies could have a transformative effect on the village, for all the right reasons.

Perhaps we are about to see positive change that will have a generational effect on both the social and economic future of the historic village.

With a possible new application that may lead to part of the historic Mint House becoming a community asset of some description, what we appear to be witnessing is more history in the making for the village.

If the historic site (as appears to be likely) was ‘built as a Guildhall around 1480 with a detached service block, one of the few remaining examples in the UK’, then nothing could be more appropriate than part of the building becoimng a community asset once again.

A guildhall was either a town hall, or a building historically used by particular crafts for meetings and other purposes. Guilds go back to Roman times. They were known as collegium, collegia or corpus.

The links between the Mint House and Pevensey castle in Roman times and the siting here of a possible guildhall in 1480, are exquisite examples of the way in which history speaks to us every day.

The prospect of part of the historic Mint House in Pevensey becoming a community asset, and guildhall of some description again in 2020, is intriguing. Excitement at the possibility may become palpable in the coming months.