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700-year-old Norfolk monument is taken off 'at risk' register after repairs

Langley Cross on the completion of repairs in September. Picture: Norfolk County Council.

Langley Cross on the completion of repairs in September. Picture: Norfolk County Council.

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A 700-year-old monument has been taken off Historic England's Heritage at Risk Register following major repairs.

The weathered base and damaged fence around the cross, pictured in June 2015.The weathered base and damaged fence around the cross, pictured in June 2015.

Langley’s 14th century cross features the sculpture of the four Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and is the finest of the 23 surviving medieval roadside crosses in Norfolk.

The 7m high cross was made by the monks of Langley Abbey and is unique to the county as it’s the only surviving example with sculptural detail including intricately carved figures and animals.

And Historic England has today removed the cross from the Heritage at Risk Register, with three years of work completed last month thanks to a £15,000 grant from Norfolk County Council’s monuments management project.

The funding was secured from Historic England and the South Norfolk Building Preservation Trust to undertake the repairs, carried out by Messenger Conservation, a company that specialises in the conservation and repair of historic structures.

Messenger Conservation cleaning the medieval sculpture in July 2016.Messenger Conservation cleaning the medieval sculpture in July 2016.

They took down, repaired and replaced the loose top section and cleaned and applied a protective-coating. The badly-weathered parts of the 19th century base have been rebuilt and a new post and rail fence put in place to protect the monument.

Martin Wilby, chairman of the environment, development and transport committee at Norfolk County Council, said: “We hope that the work will see one of Norfolk’s greatest historical treasures restored to its former glory.

“Before the repairs were carried out the top section of the cross had been seen to be rocking in the wind and with small sections that had broken off over the years, the base crumbling and suffering from weather damage it was clear something had to be done to preserve this unique part of Norfolk’s medieval history for future generations to enjoy.”

The cross originally stood on the roadside close to the Abbey, but was moved to its present location west of Langley Hall during the 19th century. It was placed there to serve as a focal point within the landscape park that surrounds the hall and to mark the meeting point of four parish boundaries.

David Robertson, historic environment officer for Norfolk County Council, said: “The Norfolk Monuments Management Project is thrilled to have overseen and helped fund the repairs. Langley Cross is one of the most spectacular medieval crosses in East Anglia and deserves to be saved for people to enjoy.”

The cross is now owned by the Hutton family who farm the Langley Grange Estate.

It is one of 49 sites removed from the register in the East of England this year, with 31 historic gems added.

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