Future of Bury St Edmunds Abbey Ruins to be preserved as group given £40,000 ‘heritage at risk’ grant by Historic England

St Edmunds Cathedral and Borough Council get £40k funding from Historic England to preserve the Abbe

St Edmunds Cathedral and Borough Council get £40k funding from Historic England to preserve the Abbey Ruins. - Credit: Gregg Brown

A project to secure the future of one of Suffolk’s most important historical sites, the Abbey Ruins in Bury St Edmunds, has been awarded £40,000.

St Edmunds Cathedral and Borough Council get £40k funding from Historic England to preserve the Abbe

St Edmunds Cathedral and Borough Council get £40k funding from Historic England to preserve the Abbey Ruins. No access to the ruins for group shot. - Credit: Gregg Brown

St Edmundsbury Cathedral yesterday joined forces with St Edmundsbury Borough Council to announce the launch of the new Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership, which is tasked with conserving the ruins and their history for future generations.

With more than one million visitors every year, the Abbey Gardens and ruins play a huge part in Bury’s thriving economy.

The Reverend Canon Matthew Vernon, chairman of the partnership, welcomed more than 20 people representing 12 public, private and voluntary sector organisations to yesterday’s launch.

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.”

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On top of the Historic England grant the borough are donating £10,000, combined with staff time and expertise worth nearly £40,000 from the University of East Anglia, Suffolk County Council, the borough council and the cathedral.

The money will fund a heritage assessment to bring together all the historical and archaeological information about the Abbey of St Edmund for the very first time.

After the assessment if completed a plan to conserve the ruined Benedictine monastery for future generations will be drawn up before further funding is applied for.

Robert Everitt, St Edmundsbury’s cabinet member for 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 select independent consultants to assess the site and produce the plan. The conservation plan is planned to complete by autumn 2017.

The Abbey of St Edmund 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, St Edmundsbury Cathedral and St Edmundsbury Borough Council.

The Abbey played a key role in the history of England, as well the development of Bury St Edmunds itself.

Once one of the richest Benedictine monasteries in the country it was built 1020 and grew in power and wealth up until its suppression in 1539.

The Abbey was the site of St Edmund the Martyr’s remains, the Anglo Saxon king slain by Vikings, and was a popular pilgrimage site.