The Priest’s House in Easton-on-the-Hill opens for the summer

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THE PRIEST’S House at Easton-on-the-Hill, one of the National Trust’s smallest properties, opens for its summer season this weekend.

It will feature an exhibition entitled Woodturners of King’s Cliffe.

The village of King’s Cliffe was renowned for centuries for its wood-turning and at one time was known as ‘the wooden spoon village’.

Towards the end of the 19th century the traditional trade in domestic woodware, or ‘treen’, was in decline and a training scheme was set up in the village to teach carving instead.

This resulted in very high-quality work which was shipped all over Britain – an order was even received from the royal household for a butter mould engraved with Queen Victoria’s coat-of-arms.

The trade finally ended with the death in 1941 of the last of the King’s Cliffe wood-turners, William Bailey, whose family had provided an unbroken line of turners since before 1600.

King’s Cliffe Heritage and Stamford Museum have provided an extensive collection of items produced by the wood-turners plus photographs and explanatory panels for the display.

The 15th century building also houses exhibitions on Collyweston slating and mining and on the ironstone quarrying industry that flourished in Easton from 1876 to 1919.

Details of last year’s dendrochronology survey, which successfully dated the property to between 1475 and 1499, can also be seen.

This confirmed the fact that it was built by Thomas Stokes, Rector of Easton at the time. Stokes was the wealthy brother-in-law of William Browne who built Browne’s Hospital in Stamford.

When he died in 1496 he left money to house a “chantry priest” in Easton to chant prayers for him and his wife, a common practice at the time intended to help speed the soul from purgatory to heaven.

The Priest’s House welcomes visitors every Sunday afternoon throughout July and August from 2pm to 4.30pm and admission is free.