Museum craftsman chosen for top award

From left, Weald and Downland Open Air Museum director Richard Pailthorpe, Roger Champion, Lord and Lady Balfour Picture: Graham Tonks

From left, Weald and Downland Open Air Museum director Richard Pailthorpe, Roger Champion, Lord and Lady Balfour Picture: Graham Tonks

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MASTER carpenter Roger Champion has been awarded a Balfour of Burleigh tercentenary prize for exceptional achievement in crafts.

The Weald and Downland Open Air Museum volunteer worked on many of the historical building exhibits at the Singleton site before retiring as master carpenter.

The prize, named after former trustee Lord Balfour of Burleigh, was created by The Radcliffe Trust to mark its 300th anniversary and celebrate the achievements of organisations and individuals it has supported over the years.

Roger received his award, in the category Crafts and Conservation: Vernacular Buildings, in a ceremony at The Travellers Club in London’s Pall Mall.

He joined the museum in its earliest days, in 1968, and retired 35 years later in 2003. His skills in traditional carpentry, knowledge of medieval timber-framed building techniques and joinery have been much admired by his peers.

Richard Pailthorpe, museum director, said: “Roger has quite literally built the vast majority of the museum’s collection of historic buildings from the ground up.

“All but two of the timber-framed buildings were erected using Roger’s expertise and he has made almost all of the authentic replica furniture, which shows how people would have lived and worked in our historic houses.

“This award is a testament to his dedication to the museum and his commitment to always getting things right, without compromise.”

Roger still works at the museum as a volunteer and continues to produce woodwork for the museum’s exhibits, based on surviving furniture elsewhere or evidence from artwork and documents. His latest piece is a replica Tudor livery cupboard, on display in Bayleaf farmhouse.

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