Ancient Southend monastery secures £1.3 million Lottery Fund award

By Culture24 Staff | 04 January 2010
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A picture of a large church covered in snow

Work to open a museum at Prittlewell Priory, the 12th century monastery which is Southend's oldest heritage site, will begin in 2010 after the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded a £1.3 million award to the project.

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council eclipsed stiff competition from a shortlist of provisional winners in October 2009, submitting designs for new displays, major structural repairs and improved accessibility in their plan.

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council's Deputy Executive Councillor for Culture, Councillor John Lamb, said the announcement was "tremendous news".

"Prittlewell Priory stands on an ancient monument site," he explained. "Thanks to this grant we will be able to return the Priory as closely as we can to how it was in former times.

"We can therefore let the building tell its own fascinating story, and make it accessible to the community in ways that have never been possible before."

A picture of a courtyard covered in snow

Local Councillor John Lamb said the funding would allow the Priory to "tell its own fascinating story"

The refurbished museum will tell the story of the Priory, from Monastic beginnings to use as a Victorian house with a thriving wildlife habitat.

It has been closed since 2001, and support groups have been campaigning for cash to fix major interior problems in the building ever since.

"The grant will make it possible for the museum to undergo a complete refurbishment and will allow local residents and visitors alike to appreciate the fascinating history and wonderful surroundings of the town's first dedicated public museum,” said David Amess, MP for Southend West.

“At this particular time, it’s just the sort of boost we need as Southend promotes itself as the region’s centre of culture.”

Detailed blueprints for the displays and a small Visitor Centre will now be drawn up. A full programme of events and educational activities will also be hosted by the new museum.

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