Studies launched to improve the Abbey of St Edmund

For the first time, all of the historical and archaeological information about the Abbey of St Edmund is to be gathered together to help not only its conservation, but also the public’s understanding and enjoyment of the buildings that once played such a prominent role in everyday life in the town.

The Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership has launched two consultancy studies for the Abbey of St Edmund.   It is led by St Edmundsbury Cathedral in collaboration with St Edmundsbury Borough Council and ten other local and regional public, private and voluntary organisations.

The Reverend Canon Matthew Vernon, chairman of the partnership, said: “The 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.” “I am delighted to announce that we have just appointed Richard Hoggett Heritage to undertake the Heritage Assessment and Purcell (Norwich) to prepare the Conservation Plan for the project area and its various subareas. The first study is starting soon and the second study will be completed by autumn 2018.”

The Heritage Assessment will bring together all the historical and archaeological information about the Abbey of St Edmund. The Conservation Plan will then draw up a series of policies for heritage conservation and interpretation. It will also identify potential improvement projects that will then provide a basis for future applications to various funders.

The studies are being funded by a Heritage at Risk Grant of £40,000 from Historic England and £10,000 from St Edmundsbury Borough Council.   The Borough Council has undertaken a competitive tendering process and will act as formal contract manager and budget holder for the studies on behalf of the Heritage Partnership.

Cllr Joanna Rayner, St Edmundsbury’s Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture, said: “The Borough Council is very pleased to be working with the Cathedral, Historic England and other partners in the Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership on this exciting project.” “The Abbey Gardens are very popular with over a million local residents and tourists visiting them each year. This work will help to protect the whole Abbey of St Edmund area for future generations and to explain its significance to local people and our many visitors.”

The studies will also include the areas of the Cathedral, the Great Churchyard, the Vinefields, The Crankles and No Mans Meadow. Simon Buteux, Principal Adviser for Heritage at Risk, Historic England, East of England, said: “ Historic England is pleased to be supporting this valuable project.   The new studies will examine the history and archaeology of an extended area around the Abbey of St Edmund, which will enable the Heritage Partnership to draw up a detailed framework for the future conservation and interpretation of an area packed with important historic remains”.