New plans for Wymondham Abbey

New proposals have been drawn up to enhance one of Norfolk's most prestigious ecclesiastical buildings and provide improved facilities for all who use it.

New proposals have been drawn up to enhance one of Norfolk's most prestigious ecclesiastical buildings and provide improved facilities for all who use it.

Up to 30,000 people visit historic Wymondham Abbey each year, in addition to the congregation and regular school parties.

A working group, including the Vicar of Wymondham, the Rev Canon Christopher Davies, was tasked by the parochial church council in November 2007 to look into the issue - an ambitious �1million project to modernise and extend the Grade 1 listed building having been shelved more than four years ago because of problems raising the funds.

The latest scheme would involve the reorganisation of the existing structure, and making use of existing foundations whose original buildings were destroyed during the Reformation under King Henry VIII's rule.


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'We instructed architects and they have drawn up preliminary plans which were presented to the abbey council last week, and they have given the first stage approval. We are consulting widely as part of the process and will be asking the whole congregation to comment,' Mr Davies explained.

'The next step is to apply for formal planning permission from South Norfolk Council and then to approach the various heritage and conservation bodies who will all need to approve any development. It would also have to go through the diocese as the abbey is an iconic building and anything we do has to be done in a sensitive way, both in preserving the original structure and providing facilities that are suitable for modern use.'

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A key element would be an educational remit so that local school children and other organisations can make greater use of the abbey as a resource for art, general studies, social history and even maths and science, Mr Davies said.

'The abbey receives between 25 and 30 thousand visitors a year, excluding our regular school parties, and obviously we need to be able to offer them comfortable facilities so they can make the most of their visit. That would include the very basic things like a kitchen and toilets but also, hopefully, some rooms where we can display artefacts historically to enable the children to have some hands on experience of medieval monastic life.'

He stressed they have yet to price the scheme which is at a very early stage, adding: 'What we have done is draw up proposals with what we would like to see happen.'

It is hoped to submit the planning application for approval by the autumn.

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