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Historic documents go on display for charity

PUBLISHED: 12:00 08 July 2010 | UPDATED: 15:27 14 July 2010

Unique parish documents dating back centuries will go on public display for the first time to raise funds for a south Norfolk church.

David Ainger-Turner, of Ashwellthorpe, who runs the award-winning Brief Encounter restaurant at Wymondham train station, will be opening up his home and garden to nearby residents on Saturday.

Unique parish documents dating back centuries will go on public display for the first time to raise funds for a south Norfolk church.

David Ainger-Turner, of Ashwellthorpe, who runs the award-winning Brief Encounter restaurant at Wymondham train station, will be opening up his home and garden to nearby residents on Saturday.

As the holder of the Lordship of the Manor of Fundenhall with Hapton, Mr Ainger-Turner has in his possession original records which date from 1660 to 1925 containing the details of the estate's tenants and its accounts. Some are so old they are written in Latin.

He wants to give his community a rare glimpse of these priceless relics, along with a tour of his historic home full of antiques and beautifully landscaped garden, in a bid to raise money for the recently rededicated St Nicholas Church, in Fundenhall.

The ancient building was taped off by insurers in 2004 after it was deemed unsafe because of falling pieces of masonry.

However villagers successfully took up the challenge of raising the £200,000 needed to repair its damaged tower and roof, and its doors were finally flung open once again to the public at Christmas. A rededication service led by the Rt Rev Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, took place in May.

“I think it's fantastic. I congratulate everyone on their hard work and all those who have supported bringing back to life Fundenhall church,” said Mr Ainger-Turner.

“I think they're marvellous (the documents). I often try to read some of them, but the first books are written in Latin. It's nice they're coming out from where they're stored and shown to people who live in the village and have not seen anything like it before.

“If I can offer to help raise money then I'm always willing to do so. It's always nice to get involved with local friends and neighbours.”

Mr Ainger-Turner, who was a parish councillor for Ashwellthorpe for 32 years, bought the lordship in the early 1980s when the previous Lady of the Manor, who lived in London, became ill and began to divide up her assets.

The title gives the holder the right to store the manor records and the ownership of 12 acres of common land in Hapton, which Mr Ainger-Turner is dedicated to preserving as an open nature area.

Also on display this weekend will be a fully-restored farming wagon, which was first used by his great, great grandparents.

Mr Ainger-Tuner will be opening the doors to his home at Woodmans Lodge, in The Street, Ashwellthorpe, from 6.30pm. Tickets cost £5 on the door and will include a glass of wine. Refreshments will also be served.

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