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Abbey of St Edmund project gains Lottery funding.

A project to better protect and present what was once the ancient Abbey of St Edmund in Bury St Edmunds has gained crucial National Lottery funding.

The Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership has successfully secured £9,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Heritage Partnership last year commissioned a Heritage Assessment and a Conservation Plan. The two studies, which have been funded by Historic England and St Edmundsbury Borough Council, are due to be published in the autumn.

It is likely that the two studies will identify projects to improve the Abbey, so it’s importance is not only better understood and enjoyed by local residents and tourists alike, but is also protected for generations to come.

The money from the Heritage Lottery Fund will help prepare for the work that will take place after those studies are completed, by enabling the Heritage Partnership to develop organisational capacity and establish an independent not-for-profit organisation. It will also be used to procure management consultancy, skills training and IT equipment and to enable lessons to be learned from the success of another project at a former Benedictine Abbey elsewhere in the country.

That in turn will mean that it will be better positioned to raise funds in the future while also developing the capacity required to deliver on major heritage and education projects.

One of the more immediate projects the group is part of is planning celebrations to take place in 2020*, to mark 1000 years since the Abbey was founded by King Cnut.

The Abbey was the second largest Romanesque Church in England in 1090 (after Winchester). Edmund was Patron Saint of the English from 1095 to 1220.

The Heritage Partnership is led by St Edmundsbury Cathedral in collaboration with St Edmundsbury Borough Council and a number of other local and regional public, private and voluntary organisations.

The Reverend Canon Matthew Vernon from St Edmundsbury Cathedral, chairman of the Heritage Partnership, said: “The Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership is delighted that its application to the Heritage Lottery Fund ‘Resilient Heritage’ programme has been approved. This will enable us to develop our organisational capabilities to ‘gear up’ to act on the results of the two current consultancy studies which will be reporting in the autumn and to develop our preparations for the millennium celebrations of the foundation of the Abbey of St Edmund by King Cnut in 1020 AD.”

Cllr Joanna Rayner, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture at St Edmundsbury Borough Council said: “It is brilliant to have the backing of the Heritage Lottery Fund. This exciting work is really about recognising how important this town and the Abbey once was, what lies behind the story of the ruins and the beautiful landscape that attracts more than a million visits each year. It is about celebrating that history and heritage that make us proud to say we love where we live.”

*The abbey 1000 celebrations were moved to 2022, due to the Covid pandemic. More information on the celebrations can be found at our Abbey 1000 Guide.

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