The Blue Monk in Bedford's High Street restored to its former glory

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The original lion-head stringcourse has been reinstated

The restoration of the Blue Monk in Bedford's High Street has been completed.

The work was done as part of the High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ).

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And repairs include a newly painted front and comprehensive works to reinstate the fine classical-style architectural design and detailing of this mid-19th century historic building.

The completed works at 19-21 High StreetThe completed works at 19-21 High Street
The completed works at 19-21 High Street

One of the most striking improvements is the stunning restoration of the original lion-head stringcourse, which runs along the façade of the building.

A number of these lion-heads were beyond repair, requiring replacements to be cast and installed alongside the originals to restore this iconic decorative feature.

Layers of paint were removed from the window pediments and half column pilasters, revealing the elaborate original detailing of carved animal heads and fine floral designs, which highlight the quality of craftsmanship and exquisite architectural design of this building.

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The project was made possible with the support of the property’s owner, his designer and contractor who worked closely with the Council’s HSHAZ team.

Councillor Henry Vann, portfolio holder for town centres and planning, said: “This astounding restoration work is almost literally a monumental achievement.

"To see the scaffolding come down on the Blue Monk building uncovering such beautiful architectural restoration is brilliant and these restoration works are part of a programme which is helping breathe new life back into the High Street, while maintaining the original historic features.

"I can’t wait to see more properties restored and would like to thank the owners and team and all our partners involved in all this work.”

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Tony Calladine, east of england regional director, Historic England, said: “The restoration of the Blue Monk building is a remarkable achievement and testament to the skilled craftsmanship of those involved. This striking building is a wonderful feature of the Bedford high street and will no doubt become a social destination for local people.”

Bedford Borough Council, in partnership with BedfordBID and SEMLEP, was awarded £1.76 million by Historic England as part of its heritage project.

Property owners on Bedford High Street can still sign-up to take part in the scheme. Email Jessica Mittler, HAZ project manager for an informal conversation at [email protected]