Delight as abbey bid lands £1million boost - The Evesham Observer

Delight as abbey bid lands £1million boost

Evesham Editorial 5th Apr, 2018   0

AN AMBITIOUS project to recreate the footprint of Evesham’s historic abbey has been handed a funding boost of almost £1million from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Delighted Evesham Abbey Trust trustees revealed the news at a meeting at the Almonry on Wednesday and outlined the next steps in their bid to create a heritage hub in the centre of the town.

After two failed attempts to secure a grant, trustees have been overwhelmed by the green light to as much as £950,000 in funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund over the next five years.

As the Observer first revealed in 2016, two acres of land in Abbey Gardens will be transformed into public gardens in the shape of the town’s former abbey to show visitors the size and scale of the demolished monastery and create a major tourism destination in the heart of Evesham.

Barrie Baldelli, chair of the trustees, told the Observer the project would open up a site which has been closed to the public for more than 400 years and offers local people the opportunity to appreciate the scale and the importance of the Abbey to the town for the first time since the 1600s.

An initial sum of around £150,000 has been released for volunteers to convince the Heritage Lottery Fund the next part of the project is viable.

Over the next year to 18 months, trustees and volunteers will examine the existing archaeology of the ruins, decide who will do the restoration, tackle conservation issues and work with English Heritage and all the other authorities involved.

Should lottery chiefs decide the project is viable, a further cash boost of around £800,000 will then be released to enable hard-working trust chiefs to embark on their bold project to bring the past to life.

“It’s not a matter of just trampling into the site and digging away merrily, there are a huge amount of rules and regulations we must abide by, lots to understand from the historical record so that when we do start the process of restoration we have crossed all the t’s and dotted the i’s,” Barrie told the Observer.

“It’s easy to run away with the enthusiasm but this is a serious game and we have to make sure its played to rules which are not necessarily to our making.

“We didn’t believe the news at first, having gone through it we knew how much money was available in that particular funding round, we knew because we had been told how many bids there were and we just didn’t believe we would be successful.”

The green light has unlocked more funding for the project such as New Homes Bonus cash which had been approved by Wychavon District Council and Evesham Town Council providing the trust was successful with its bid for lottery cash.

The dedicated chair of trustees paid tribute to the Rudge family who donated the land and without whom the project would have never taken off.

“The Rudge family have been enormously generous with their time and support and of course the donation of the land. The fact they recommended our bid to the rest of the Rudge family who live in the south of England was supremely important because it gave our group credibility.

“It’s not easy to talk to people who you have never met before and say please can we have a scrap of land!”

Volunteers have recently clocked up more than 200 hours clearing ivy from the Abbey’s north wall and Barrie said fund-raising would continue locally and welcomed the support of anyone wishing to volunteer.

Visit for more information on the project.


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