The Forest of Dean Buildings Preservation Trust (FoDBPT) was formed in 2009, with the encouragement of the County and District Councils, to take on the ownership of historic monuments and buildings at risk in the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley areas and to raise the funds to conserve them.
The Trust has received very welcome support from Gloucestershire Environmental Trust, which has offered grants totalling £243,500 towards work on the three monuments in the Trust’s ownership. Other funding has been received from Forest of Dean District Council, English Heritage, Wye Valley AONB and Coleford Area Partnership.
Discussions are also underway with Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage, the Architectural Heritage Fund and other trusts.
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The trust is currently actively pursuing the following projects:
An early coke-fired blast furnace (1798 – 1816)
Whitecliff, a Scheduled Monument, is a rare survival of an early coke-fired furnace. In 1978, a small trust was formed locally to purchase the furnace to prevent its loss. Acting as a sub-committee of the Historical Metallurgy Society, five stages of emergency repairs were made. In 1984 the rest of the site was purchased by Dean Heritage Museum Trust.
Major archaeological work was undertaken but no further conservation repairs took place until 2010-11. New impetus came from the Heritage Lottery funded Landscape Partnership: Project Overlooking the Wye which completed a massive conservation repair of the furnace and stabilised its lining.
In 2012 the entire site was gifted to the Forest of Dean Buildings Preservation Trust. Since then the Trust has initiated a structural engineering survey of the site and undertaken a major conservation repair to the third charging bridge.
The Forest of Dean has a long history of iron making, and in the Middle Ages was the premier iron-making district in Britain. For part of the 17th century it had more charcoal fuelled blast furnaces and forges than anywhere else in the country, and Gunns Mill was one of them.
The furnace is a rare and important survival, considered one of the most impressive sites of its kind in England, as so much remains, including the original timber charging house and the half-timbered paper drying house dating from the 18th century.
Gunns Mill Furnace is one of the most complete surviving 17th century blast furnace in the country. The raw materials used to produce cast iron were iron-ore, slag from bloomeries (old iron-works) and charcoal. The iron from the furnace was then refined in chafery and finery forges to become wrought iron, usually in bar form. Molten iron from the furnace will also have been cast into moulds for items such as fire backs.
Church of St James
St James’ Church is a Listed Building and part of a Scheduled Monument. The collapse of the chancel-arch in 1984 led to the formation of the Lancaut Church Preservation Group, which instituted a major repair programme. The church was finally de-consecrated in 1987. Ownership was then transferred to the Gloucestershire Heritage Trust. However ownership was lost when that Trust dissolved itself without appointing a successor. The church reverted to the Crown. In 2013 the Forest of Dean Buildings Preservation Trust petitioned the Crown through the escheat process and eventually a fresh title was created and the church vested in the Trust’s ownership.
© 2014 Forest of Dean Buildings Preservation Trust
Reg. Charity No. 1147757; A company limited by guarantee No. 6859885