Gainsborough's House project in Sudbury receives boost from Babergh District Council
PUBLISHED: 16:46 12 February 2018 | UPDATED: 16:46 12 February 2018
A multi-million pound project to transform a Sudbury museum has received a huge boost after the district council gifted a site to support the scheme.
Gainsborough’s House – the birthplace and childhood home of Thomas Gainsborough – has already secured just over £8million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and private donors for the £8.7m renovation and construction of a national centre for the artist.
Now Babergh District Council has decided to gift the £235,000 site next to the museum, known as Gainsborough’s Chambers, to the Gainsborough’s House Society to back the ambitious project.
Babergh originally stepped in to buy the Weavers Lane plot, which consists of a car park, an old labour exchange and three garages, in 2014 after museum trustees could not find the necessary funds to purchase it.
Mark Bills, Gainsborough’s House director, said the gift from the council takes the project one step closer to becoming a reality.
He said: “We’re absolutely thrilled. What is shows is how much the project is backed in the town and the community.
“It really means a lot to us and also shows that the council supports our vision to make a real difference in the town.
“It’s terrific news and means we are closer to securing the project. We’re very grateful to the council, especially after they stepped in to buy it. So to now gift it to us is absolutely fantastic.”
At the end of January, it was announced that £700,000 was still needed for the project to go ahead.
The gift from the council leaves the museum with around £465,000 to find and Mr Bills added that a final decision for the project will be made in July.
It is hoped work will start in the autumn.
John Ward, leader of Babergh District Council and chairman of Babergh’s cabinet, said: “We’ve always been very keen to support Gainsborough’s House and the fantastic work it does. That’s why we bought this property in 2014, to support the museum.
“Since then we’ve leased it to the Gainsborough’s House Society, but the time has now come for them to take over completely and I’m delighted that we’re able to gift the property to them.
“Their ‘Reviving an Artist’s Birthplace’ project could have a huge impact on Sudbury, both cultural and economic, and we at Babergh are proud to be a part of that.”