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Hoardings up as work begins to build Biggin Hill Memorial Museum

PUBLISHED: 09:30 02 October 2017 | UPDATED: 12:47 02 October 2017

Hoardings outside St George's RAF Chapel in Biggin Hill. Photo: Keith Larby

Hoardings outside St George's RAF Chapel in Biggin Hill. Photo: Keith Larby

Archant

Work began on September 18

Demolition works are underway at St George’s RAF Chapel of Remembrance as part of the Biggin Hill Memorial Museum development.

Last month hoardings were raised around the post-war chapel after the annual Battle of Britain service.

The chapel, built in honour of veterans of the Second World War, in particular those who fought in the Battle of Britain, will now be closed until the museum’s opening in November next year.

There will however, be special opening days, including a Remembrance Sunday service on November 12.

Access to the Garden of Remembrance will be available on Wednesday mornings.

Peter Morgan, executive councillor renewal and recreation, said: “Work is underway to enhance and preserve the chapel so it can remain open for future generations and to construct the Biggin Hill Memorial Museum.

“For over 30 years there has been a wish to honour those who served at Biggin Hill during wartime and the community who supported them, now that aspiration is getting close to becoming reality.

“The museum will be open for visitors in 2018 to tell the human story, remembering the Few and honouring the Many.”

In July, the council received a £1,998,200 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund toward the £5.3million museum, which will be built around the existing chapel.

But campaigners have voiced concerns that construction will see the demolition of the chapel’s vestry, an extension of the building built in 1990.

Last month campaigners took a 19,500-strong petition to protect the chapel up to Parliament, where it was handed in to the Department for Communities and Local Government.

But the council has defended its building design, stating it will “wrap around the chapel in the vein of a garden wall or cloisters”, while ensuring the chapel “remains a permanent shrine of remembrance.”

Historic England have backed the annexe’s demolition, with work now underway.

A DCLG spokesperson said it will respond to the petition “in due course”.

During construction works, the chapel will be opened on six occasions, Cllr Peter Fortune said: “We look forward to seeing visitors at these times”

The appeal will be open on:

· Sunday, November 12 2017, 12 – 3pm

· Sunday, January 14 2018, 12 – 3pm

· Sunday, March 11 2018, 12 – 3pm

· Sunday, May 13 2018, 12 – 3pm

· Sunday, July 15 2018, 12 – 3pm

· Sunday, September 16 2018, 12 – 3pm

A council spokesperson added: “The chapel will reopen as part of the museum in November 2018 as part of the commemorations marking 100 years after the end of the First World War and RAF 100. Weekly worship will resume at this time with both Catholic and Church of England services taking place as they have done historically.

“Access to the main chapel will remain free to visitors when the museum site opens, and St George’s room will be visible through a glass screen which can be opened to provide additional seating space at large services during the year.”

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