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Friday, October 21, 2016
Bristol: ancient priory wins restoration funding
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 St James Priory, Bristol's oldest standing building and home to a project for people with alcohol and drug problems, has been given a 3.2million restoration grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Grade I-listed St James Priory Church is on the 'Buildings at Risk Register', the roof is littered with holes and the rain that has been leaking through has extensively damaged the interior. Urgent repairs are desperately needed to prevent this building from being closed down. HLF's money will help to fund restoration and conservation works which include the Grade II-listed Church House and the church's Romanesque sculptural details. The church is owned by the Anglican Diocese of Bristol and leased to the St James Priory Project who set up a project providing residential support and treatment for vulnerable people with drug and alcohol addiction. The project will provide training and volunteering opportunities to residents of the St James Priory Project and the rest of the local community. It will also raise awareness and open up the heritage of the building to people for the first time. The church was originally built as a small priory for Benedictine monks, founded in the 12th century by Earl Robert of Gloucester. Tradition has it that when Bristol Castle was being built, every tenth stone brought from Normandy was given for the construction of this church. Late Norman features can still be seen in the western section. In common with many other Bristol churches, it has the idiosyncrasy of one pinnacle rising higher than the other three. It is also considered to be one of the 38 most important Norman churches in the country. Susan Jotcham, Director of the St James Priory Project, said: "It's absolutely amazing news and such a tremendous relief, we have been so worried about the deteriorating condition of the building. Not only is St James Priory an important part of the history of Bristol it is also a precious haven for all who come here. Now thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund we have the opportunity to repair, conserve and develop this wonderful building." Carole Souter, Director of HLF, said: "This is a wonderful example of an outstanding historic building being used as an important community resource. It is great news that Heritage Lottery Fund money will help to ensure that this continues to be the case for many years to come." The Bishop of Clifton, Right Reverend Declan Lang, said: "The news that St James Priory Project has successfully gained funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund is very welcome. "I know the grant will be of great use as they continue their important work, in the heart of our city of Bristol, with some of the most vulnerable in our society." As part of this ambitious plan, a new caf will also be created, offering local people and visitors to the city a unique opportunity to sit and enjoy the wonderful surroundings of this Bristol landmark. Source: Clifton Diocese
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