When the Parish Council purchased Chedham’s Yard from Bill Chedham in February 2002 there was no time to do a feasibility study or consider the long-term challenges and costs of restoring this very special historic building with its architectural treasures hidden in the heart of Wellesbourne. They only knew that if they did not purchase it, a precious and unique window on part of the roots of our village would be lost for ever.
The next four years saw slow but steady progress in consulting various bodies and coming to decisions about the future of the yard. A major step forward was taken when Elaine Hughes was appointed Project Officer by the Parish Council in 2005 and PLB were appointed as consultants shortly after.
But the real excitement started and the pace got quicker when it was decided to enter the BBC Restoration Village competition in 2006. For the full story use the timeline below.
In April 2006 we heard that Chedham’s Yard had been chosen as one of three sites in the Midlands to be filmed on behalf of the BBC by Endemol; there were 21 in total throughout the United Kingdom. From this moment there was an air of excitement buzzing through the Friends and the members of the Parish Council. We held an exhibition in the Methodist Church Hall featuring maps, photographs and items such as a restored child’s cart and a demonstration wheel (made by a wheelwright at the open day in 2005). Glynis Powell, the Community Museums Officer for Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull and the County Archaeologist were on hand to answer questions. Several local people who had lived in the area for a long time talked about the photographs and shared their knowledge of history, not least Bill Chedham the last surviving member of the Chedham family who could give a first hand account of life at the Yard before he finally closed the doors and ceased trading in 1965.
Now the BBC started to exert its pressure on us to perform in a way that would look good on television! With very little notice they announced they were coming with their cameral crew to film Chedham’s Yard on May 5th 2006. This necessitated bringing many of the 5000 artefacts, so recently put into store, back to the Yard to make it look like a working yard. This was all done in a few days ready for filming by volunteers and Friends of Chedham’s Yard. It was a challenging and difficult task as many of the artefacts are large and heavy to handle.
In early June 2006 Griff Rhys Jones the famous broadcaster and comedian, as well as presenter of previous Restoration programmes, came to Wellesbourne. He was filmed cycling up Church Walk and into the Yard. He also attended another exhibition in the Methodist Hall, was given a general tour of the village and was taken to Moreton Morrell College to look at the forge there and what the students were making under the watchful eye of their tutor Michelle Parker. He was very interested in everything and enthusiastically talked to those who were helping that day.