Suffolk's cathedral has been given nearly three quarters of a million pounds to improve its links with the Abbey ruins in the heart of Bury St Edmunds.

The Abbey of St Edmund was once one of the greatest abbeys in medieval England. It was a focus for international pilgrimage, and it played a key role in the formation of the Magna Carta.

The Abbey of St Edmund: A Millennium of History in West Suffolk is a project set up by the cathedral, West Suffolk Council and English Heritage.

East Anglian Daily Times: The team has won a new National Lottery grant for the cathedral.The team has won a new National Lottery grant for the cathedral. (Image: Bury Cathedral)

It aims to conserve and protect the ruins; build a visitor centre, west cloister, and network of footpaths and use digital technology to provide an exciting interpretation for all ages and interests.

There will be a huge range of learning and volunteering activities built around events, programmes and exhibitions.

The project will link up with other heritage attractions nearby and further afield, giving communities and visitors more opportunities to access the rich heritage of town and county.

Development funding of £729,553 has been awarded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to help the cathedral and its partners progress plans to apply for a full Heritage Fund grant at a later date.

The Abbey of St Edmund is very important to the local community – 29 local organisations have come together to form the Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership, to care about and promote the ruins.

The Abbey site currently enjoys more than one million visits each year as people walk through the town’s free to enter public gardens, where the ruins are situated.

Very Rev Joe Hawes, Dean of St Edmundsbury, said “We’re delighted that we’ve received this support thanks to National Lottery players. This project captures what is so special about heritage in Bury St Edmunds.

"The community has such a strong sense of pride in the Abbey site. It has been a central feature of the town’s identity for a thousand years and this project will ensure that will continue well into this century and beyond.

"St Edmundsbury Cathedral, West Suffolk Council and English Heritage are working together to deliver this transformative project which will benefit those who are already engaged with the Abbey site and those who are yet to discover the Abbey and be captivated by its place in our culture, history and heritage.”

Eilish McGuinness, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “The Abbey of St Edmund holds a  thousand years of history within its ruins and surrounding gardens.

"It has, inspired and connected generations of people to its unique heritage as a place of worship and medieval pilgrimage, dating back to the Magna Carta. 

"I am delighted that our grant award of £730,000 will enable development of the project and continued collaboration between a range of community and conservation organisations."