Friday, 13 September 2013

Hexham Abbey takes another huge step forward

Pleased to see the appointment of a specialist building contractor to begin work on the Abbeys £3.2m restoration project. The restoration of the Abbey’s medieval monastery buildings will reunite the Abbey site for the first time in 500 years, following the removal of the monastery complex from the Church by Henry VIII in 1537.
Building work by York-based restoration specialist William Anelay is due to begin within the month. The ambitious project to redevelop the 13th Century monastery is a landmark in the Abbey’s 1,339-year history. It will be funded by a £1.8m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and funds raised by the congregation, the community and on-going applications to various grant-making trusts.
The Abbey was founded in 674 AD by St Wilfrid. It is home to many internationally renowned items including an original Saxon crypt which is thought to be one of only two intact Saxon buildings of its type in the world. The monastic buildings which adjoin the Abbey were taken over by Henry VIII in 1537. They then passed through various owners before being sold to the local authority, which gifted the buildings back to the Abbey as part of the project in 2012. Full credit to the NCC for their actions.
Proving that he thinks very long term, our Canon, Graham Usher said:
“We now have the opportunity to reunite this historic site and restore it to its full role in the community. It’s a tremendous project which will take this historic place into the next 1,000 years or so of its life.”
The Project will provide many things but in particular: 
• Permanent meeting spaces for both religious and secular groups.
• A large space for community activities, celebrations and events, including wedding receptions.
• Exhibition spaces to display the Abbey’s historic treasures.
• Interpretation spaces to tell the Abbey’s long and fascinating history.
• Educational areas where people of all ages can study the significance of the Abbey in more detail and explore contemporary social issues.
• Outdoor spaces where children can play and performances can be given.
• A herb garden and place for quiet reflection.
• Quiet areas for private study and contemplation.
If you have not visited, walked around or worshipped in this wonderful building I urge you to do so. It is the jewel in Hexham's crown and a place for contemplation and so much more.