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Hexham Abbey receives £1.8m to restore medieval buildings

Hexham Abbey in northeast England has been granted £1.8m from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a restoration of the Abbey’s medieval monastery buildings.

The restoration project includes the creation of a state-of-the-art visitor centre and community facilities within the former monastic complex adjoining the 7th century abbey church which dominates the heart of Hexham.

Ivor Crowther, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund North East, said: “Hexham Abbey has played a pivotal role in the lives of local people and visitors for hundreds of years. This project, that will restore and reunite the Abbey’s monastery buildings, will mean that the heritage of this special place is brought to life and provide a place for everyone to reflect, learn from and enjoy. HLF are incredibly proud to be supporting this project to protect a true heritage gem in the North East.”

“We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has announced that our second round application to has been confirmed in full,” said the Abbey’s Rector, Canon Graham Usher. “We are tremendously grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for its support for our mission to restore and redevelop the former monastery buildings to create a wonderful resource for the whole community.”

While the Abbey continues to prepare further applications to grant-making trusts in its bid to include the restoration of Hexham’s former Magistrates’ Courts in its redevelopment project, the news from the Heritage Lottery Fund is a major landmark in its ambitious project to redevelop its 13th century monastery complex 500 years after it was removed from the church by Henry VIII.

“The granting in full of our Heritage Lottery Fund application guarantees we can now move ahead with our work to restore our historic former monastic buildings for the benefit of the community,” said Canon Usher. “This very generous award from the Heritage Lottery Fund will help the Abbey to share its history more widely, unlock some of its hidden treasures, and serve the community for generations to come. We are immensely grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting us in our efforts to restore these medieval buildings to full community use.”

The confirmation of the success of the application to the Heritage Lottery Fund follows the recent success of the Abbey’s public appeal to raise £400,000 for the project within 12 months.

“The support of individuals, grant-making trusts and organisations large and small has been truly amazing and inspiring,” said Canon Usher. “The success of our applications to the HLF and other grant-making trusts, in addition to the huge efforts of so many people in the community, means we now have a once-in-500-year opportunity to reunite our medieval monastic complex and restore and redevelop it for everyone.”

Visitors to the abbey, which has a 600-strong congregation, already contribute nearly £3m to the local economy and it is expected that the new facilities will significantly enhance the economic contribution it makes to the area.The complex at the heart of the appeal adjoins the Grade I-listed abbey, which was founded in 674 AD by St Wilfrid and is home to many internationally renowned items including an original Saxon crypt which is thought to be one of only two intact Saxon buildings of its type in the world.

The monastic buildings which adjoin the abbey were taken from the abbey in 1537 by Henry VIII. They then passed through various owners before being sold to the local authority, which plans to gift the buildings back to the abbey as part of the project.

“We now have the opportunity to reunite this historic site and restore it to its full role in the community,” said Canon Usher. “It’s a tremendous project which will take this historic place into the next 1,000 years or so of its life. The support of Heritage Lottery Fund as the major funder to the project is magnificent.”

Click here to visit the Hexham Abbey website

Source: Heritage Lottery Fund

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