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Work on historical gem almost complete

PUBLISHED: 16:12 24 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:40 07 July 2010

Richard Parr

One of Norfolk's most complete and impressive set of monastic ruins has now been almost completely preserved thanks to a near £1m six year project.

The work, spanning the past six years, formed part of a partnership to ensure that the North Norfolk Priory, dating back to the 11th century, and the adjoining church are accessible to everyone and preserved for future generations to enjoy.

One of Norfolk's most complete and impressive set of monastic ruins has now been almost completely preserved thanks to a near £1m six year project.

The work, spanning the past six years, formed part of a partnership to ensure that the North Norfolk Priory, dating back to the 11th century, and the adjoining church are accessible to everyone and preserved for future generations to enjoy.

Binham Priory dates from the time when a nephew of William the Conqueror founded a Benedictine order there.

The present remains date from the early 12th century, benefitting from an endowment by Henry 1.

Following the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 by Henry VIII, the priory ceased to exist and the building materials were dispersed.

The only visible intact part of the priory is the nave, which was the area of worship set aside for local people in the Middle Ages and to this day, still serves as the village church.

The £950,000 cost of the scheme was run by Binham Parochial Church Council, and the Norfolk Archaeological Trust with support from English Heritage, a major grant from the Heritage Lottery fund and donations from many other organisations and individuals.

English Heritage gave a £81,402 donation towards the repair and consolidation of the crumbling medieval precinct walls and gatehouse, as well as repairs to the North Aisle wall base of the church.

The Heritage Lottery fund has provided a grant of £648,000. Binham Parochial Church Council and Norfolk Archaeological Trust have together raised more than £200,000 in match funding.

David Frost, Lay chairman of Binham PCC and project manager said : “It has been a privilege to be involved in such an inspiring project which will allow visitors to really enjoy and understand a fine example of a medieval monastic site and how it is relevant today”.

He added : “The English Heritage funding was a vital component in moving the project forward, demonstrating to other funding agencies and donors the credibility of the project's aims and design, as well as encouraging the local community to support it fully over the past six years.”

Trudi Hughes, team leader, from English Heritage, said : “Binham Priory is a site of national importance in need of urgent attention. This site is of great archaeological and historic interest, as well as being one of the most beautiful and iconic sites in rural Norfolk. We are delighted to have been involved in offering advice, and grant aid, to such an exemplary project.”

Although the main restoration work on the ancient fabric is complete, the project also included the construction of a secondary entrance to the church with ancillary facilities which will include information panels explaining the priory's history.

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