10th April 2024

The Abbey of St Edmund Project awarded £730K grant by the National Lottery Heritage Fund


photo credit: Owen Chad Cox

St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds, along with its partners West Suffolk Council and English Heritage, has received initial support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for The Abbey of St Edmund: A Millennium of History in West Suffolk, it was announced today. 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 project aims to conserve and protect the ruins; build a visitor centre, west cloister, and network of footpaths; and use digital technology to provide 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.

Made possible by National Lottery players, 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 over one million visits each year as people walk through the town’s free to enter public gardens, where the ruins are situated.

Commenting on the award, The Very Reverend 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, inspiring and connecting 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, whose focus is to ensure that this heritage treasure can be valued, cared for and sustained for everyone, now and in the future.

As the largest funder for the UK’s heritage we believe in the power of heritage to ignite imagination, offer joy, and to build pride in a place by connecting people to the past. The Abbey of St Edmund is a fantastic example.”

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