Early in 2019 we made a successful bid to the Fund for a ‘Resilient Grant’ to prepare the way for a bigger bid when we had a clearer idea of the needs of Fydell House.
The Resilient Grant was for £10,000, to which we have now added £5000 following an appeal to donors who have most generously contributed, including the Aslackby Trust, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom Trust and the Ancaster Trust.
This has paid for a full condition survey of Fydell House, and to prepare the Trust for planning and carrying through a major restoration project over a period of years.
The problems highlighted by the survey led to the creation by the trustees and volunteers of a ‘Conservation Management Plan’, with the help of Heritage Lincolnshire. The trustees and the volunteers have also gone through an exercise to understand where their individual strengths lie, and to remedy any important gaps with training. The trustees have undergone a board training programme throughout the lockdown period which continues. And we have also undertaken a review of the Options for the future of Fydell House (our ‘Options Appraisal’).
The aim of all this is to prepare everyone to deal with a major restoration project and to be aware the difficulties. We also need to plan for the long term upkeep of the building beyond the terms of the Heritage Grant. And we need to be really clear about the future purpose of Fydell House and how it can best survive the years to come.
We have set out detailed plans which will maintain Fydell House for future generations as a Community Asset. The rooms will be available for use by interest groups of many kinds; there will be spaces for exhibitions, Art demonstration, music, and celebration of events. There will be a café facility, and a retail outlet for relevant items. There will be opportunities for volunteering and training inside the house and in the garden. We will seek to improve the wellbeing of those who wish to use us in this way. We will provide tours and explanation of Fydell House, with special efforts to make this inviting for groups of schoolchildren. We will seek to attract a wider range of people to use the building and enjoy its history. The building has had a wedding license for many years and will build on this, using the garden when desired, and in collaboration with the Guildhall.
Even though some of this has been delayed by Covid, we have been able to present the National Heritage Lottery Fund with a clear picture of what needs to be done to Fydell House, and to give good reasons for their support backed up with evidence, and to show that we have a competent and committed team of people to see it through. As you can see, there is more to it than just asking for the money!
The HF recently asked for an update in advance of their decision about our bid. Here is what we have said -:
Despite lockdown, we have come through with strong growth and increased community involvement. Redecoration and re-lighting by volunteers has helped with team building and has been much admired by visitors old and new.
We have redesigned and relaunched our website and we’ve adopted new ways of using IT to manage and promote the trust.
Our application to the Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) for matched funding was approved to the tune of £26k, provided we get approval from the Heritage Fund.
Bookings in Fydell House (FH) have returned, for example- the Poetry Group, The Ivydale Activities Group, French speaking, Weddings, Photoshoots, Cooperative events with neighbours Boston Guildhall, and a return of two small business License holders to two of our rooms.
Friends of Fydell House (FOFH) and café activities have bounced back with higher than expected receipts.
A recent exciting and novel all-day event focussed on recruitment for our local NHS Community Trust (LPFT) and on wellbeing. It used all the resources of the building including a large marquee. Many new faces were seen in FH.
We have been joined by some new volunteers from the town, helping in the office, the house, the garden and with catering.
Our unique walled garden participated for the first time this year in the NGS (National Garden Scheme) open day, attracting new people. We will do two more in 2022.
The availability of a small art gallery in a classic house and increased catering has drawn in a new stratum of visitors. We have learned from this. The expansion of catering will be a strong part of our future activity.
The regular (twice weekly) history tours of Boston, starting and finishing at FH, are proving increasingly popular.
Our programme of regular lectures which had to stop during lockdown, is to start up again in December.
All of which fits with our ambitions as described in our application to the HF to provide a useful community asset with many faces and flexible uses to the benefit of our people.
We are working within a unique and treasured building in Boston. Fydell House has ambitions. But these will be thwarted unless we can renovate the building including insulating and heating it, and make it an even more useful and relevant asset for the long term.
Our bid to the NLHF has now been submitted and we must wait for a decision over the next few months. Without the support of the Heritage Fund and others, places like Fydell House would gradually disappear.