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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 July 2006, 11:33 GMT 12:33 UK
BBC unveils Restoration buildings
Cushendun Old Church in County Antrim
A former church, a 16th century white house and a Georgian school are set to compete for Northern Ireland in this year's BBC Restoration series.

The BBC Two ratings hit returns to television screens later this summer.

Restoration Village will call on the public to participate in saving precious buildings around the UK.

The buildings selected to take part in the new series are, Cushendun Old Church, Gracehill Old School and the White House, Newtownabbey.

Cushendun Old Church in County Antrim, a small former Church of Ireland building, is just four metres by 14 metres and has been declared redundant.

Locals now want to develop it as a broad-based arts centre.

Previously a haven for many distinguished artists, the community is keen to rejuvenate the building.

'Charming'

The building is a charming little church in one of Northern Ireland's prettiest corners and the villagers are solidly behind the plans.

Gracehill Old School near Ballymena in County Antrim is a grade B Georgian school in the centre of the only intact Moravian settlement in Ireland.

Gracehill is Northern Ireland's oldest conservation area, and a unique planned village dating from the 17th century.

The only other Moravian Christian villages like this are in the Czech Republic and South Africa.

The White House, Newtownabbey

Visitors come from all over the world, but there is nowhere that tells them about the history.

The 200 villagers are passionate supporters of the restoration project which has already attracted quite a lot of money, but crucially needs 250,000 match-funding to trigger heritage grants.

The White House in Newtownabbey is a Grade B1 listed building dating back to 1569 and is believed to be the oldest building in greater Belfast.

It is called the 'White House' because the building had a limestone rendering which made it a navigation marker for ships coming up Belfast Lough.

'Installed a roof'

The building was gifted to Major Brunker by Queen Elizabeth I as reward for his services in the Spanish Wars.

At that time the building was believed to be a tall, square town house. Turrets were added during the Plantation period.

The building continued to serve as a residence until 1840 from which point it was used as a stable and barn.

By 1923, it was a derelict shell but it was at this point that it was taken on as a gospel hall.

The group using the building installed a roof, some of which survives today.

Gracehill Old School, Ballymena

In 1996, the building was put on the market and was bought by Ulster Garden Villages on behalf of Abbey Historical Society which had ambitions for its re-use.

A total of 21 buildings around the UK, including the three Northern Ireland buildings, unveiled on Monday in conjunction with English Heritage and other heritage bodies, will be up for the public vote with the possibility of securing crucial funding to ensure their future.

This new incarnation of the series, presented by Griff Rhys Jones, will this year focus on buildings which have previously been historically important to a local rural community and could be again.

Seven finalists from around the country will then be put forward for the ultimate public vote.

A surprise eighth finalist will also join the line up - this will be the runner up that receives the most viewer votes across the series.

The winning building will be in line to receive the money accumulated throughout the series.

The grand final will be held at Weald & Downland Open Air Museum.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Hear about the history of the three buildings



SEE ALSO
Crumbling buildings could be saved
06 Jun 03 |  Northern Ireland
Historic home is runner-up
15 Sep 03 |  Northern Ireland

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