£3million for Bristol's oldest building - St James Priory

 St James Priory, a stunning Grade I listed building, in the heart of Bristol has been awarded £3million by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The grant is for vital repair, restoration and development.

St James was founded in the 12th century by the Benedictine order of monks who helped the poorest and sickest people of the city. The priory, on Whitson Street right next to the bus station, is now home to St James Priory Project which runs a residential drug rehabilitation centre. Mass is still celebrated in the priory church every Sunday morning.

The church itself is outstanding architectural and historic interest. It is the oldest building in Bristol and is at the very heart of this HLF-supported restoration project which will provide new community facilities as well as training and volunteering opportunities for people in Bristol.

The campaign to raise the vital funds was support by people from Bristol and all over the country. Bristol resident and TV personality Tony Robinson together with Grand Design's Kevin McCloud also backed the cause.

Susan Jotcham Director of the St James Priory Project told cliftondiocese.com: "This is absolutely fantastic news. For 16 years we have been hoping and praying that St James Priory could be saved from ruin. It's such a haven for all who come here and the possibility of losing the priory because of the vast amount of funds needed to save it was heartbreaking.

"Thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund this dream will now become a reality. Bristol's oldest building now has a future. Its original 12th century mission 'to serve the people of Bristol' can now continue for generations to come.

"None of this would have been possible without this wonderful grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. We cannot thank them enough.

"We have also received generous support from English Heritage and other groups as well as individual donations. It is amazing news."

Nerys Watts Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South West said: "This award will help secure the future of St James Priory, the oldest standing building in Bristol, by conserving the important historic structures, whist ensuring that the project's work with some of the most vulnerable members of the community can continue. Alongside the restoration of the church, the award will provide new training opportunities for residents of the Priory project and provide interpretation of the building's fascinating history, working with Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery and local schools. It is wonderful that Heritage Lottery Fund money will mean that both this incredibly important church and its valuable work will be preserved for generations to come."

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