£2m grant to restore historic theatre

By Lisa CleverdonHERITAGE bosses have rubber-stamped plans to give £2million to the restoration of a historic theatre.Members of the management board at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, said they were thrilled after receiving conformation of the windfall from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which will be used to restore the building to its former glory.

By Lisa Cleverdon

HERITAGE bosses have rubber-stamped plans to give £2million to the restoration of a historic theatre.

Members of the management board at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, said they were thrilled after receiving conformation of the windfall from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which will be used to restore the building to its former glory.

Judith Shallow, chairman of the Theatre Royal Board of Management, said: “This fantastic news is a giant step forward in our plans for achieving a fully-restored Theatre Royal.


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“Our audiences can now look forward to experiencing the thrill and ambience of a genuine Regency playhouse along with the wonderful, but little-known dramatic repertoire of the period. At the same time we will be able to offer our audiences 21st century comfort and convenience.”

The money will pay for a major restoration project at the theatre, which starts this autumn, in an effort to dramatically improve the grade I listed building.

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Work will include restoring the theatre to its original 1819 interior, with the stage, pit, boxes, gallery seating and foyer all getting an overhaul.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has given the RSPB £546,500 to develop and expand the Lakenheath Fen, near Brandon.

The money will go towards creating a new visitor centre that will be a focal point for the nature reserve, enabling people to experience and learn about the landscape and the wider heritage of the fens.

In addition, 42 hectares of land will be bought to extend the reserve north of the Little Ouse River, expanding the areas of wetland through restoration of further areas of reed bed and floodplain grazing marsh.

Jeff Kew, RSPB projects manager, said: “With Heritage Lottery Fund's help, the RSPB has shown at Lakenheath Fen how a large area of farmland can be turned back to wildlife-rich fenland in just 10 years.

“We are delighted to receive a further grant that will help us open the reserve to local people and visitors to enjoy the wealth of wildlife attracted to the expanding area of new wetland.”

Robyn Greenblatt, Heritage Lottery Fund manager for the East of England, said: “Suffolk has such a wealth of heritage and people should be very proud of that. Whether it's a major landmark like the Theatre Royal, or beautiful landscapes, there is a strong link with the past that has shaped the county's identity.

“We are excited to be able to protect and share that with as many people as possible, bringing the past to life for everyone to explore and enjoy.”

lisa.cleverdon@eadt.co.uk

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