Launch of the Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership

13 Sep 2016

Members of The Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership

St Edmundsbury Cathedral and St Edmundsbury Borough Council announced the launch of the new Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership at a meeting of the full partnership at the Cathedral Centre on Monday 12 September.

The Reverend Canon Matthew Vernon, chairman of the partnership, welcomed more than 20 people representing 12 local and regional public, private and voluntary sector organisations to the meeting.

He said: “The new Heritage Partnership aims to deepen public understanding of the life and times of St Edmund and the Medieval Abbey and to encourage people to experience the spiritual, historical and archaeological significance of the Abbey of St Edmund in the modern world. The launch of the Heritage Partnership today marks the culmination of a year’s careful preparation by the Cathedral, the Borough Council and a growing number of partners.

“I am delighted to announce that we have just been awarded a Heritage at Risk Project Development Grant of £40,000 by Historic England to help us carry out some essential heritage research and conservation planning for the future.”

The heritage at risk grant comprises £40,000 from Historic England plus a £10,000 cash contribution from St Edmundsbury Borough Council, totalling £50,000.

The grant and the contributions will fund a Heritage Assessment to bring together all the historical and archaeological information about the Abbey of St Edmund for the first time. A Conservation Management Plan will draw up a series of policies and identify practical projects to conserve, improve and interpret the area which will then be the basis for future grant applications.

Cllr Robert Everitt, St Edmundsbury’s Cabinet Member for Families and Communities, said: “The Abbey of St Edmund including the Abbey Gardens is hugely popular with over a million local residents and tourists visiting each year. This funding will help us conserve the whole Abbey area for future generations. It will also allow us to look at other ways that we can interpret and tell the Abbey story and make improvements to the site without damaging its historic integrity. This may include improving access around the ruins and neighbouring areas of interest as well as opening up more of the River Lark for people to enjoy.”

The borough council will manage the grant funding and help to select consultants for the two studies by competitive tender. It is hoped that the Heritage Assessment will begin this autumn and the Conservation Plan will begin next spring so that the results can be drawn together next autumn. The Core Group of the Heritage Partnership will continue to direct the initiative.

The Heritage Partnership includes representatives of Suffolk County Council, Historic England, English Heritage, the University of East Anglia, the University of Suffolk, the Bury Society, several local community groups, several respected architects, historians and archaeologists, the Archaeologist to the Cathedral and the former Surveyor to the Cathedral as well as several representatives of the Cathedral and the several departments of the Borough Council.

The Heritage Partnership agreed today to form three Action Groups to progress its work; The Heritage Assessment Group, the Conservation Management Plan Group and the Articles of Partnership Group.

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