Byline: Tony Henderson
PLANS can now be drawn up for the return of a building lost to an abbey more than 450 years ago.
The Heritage Lottery Fund will today announce its initial support for pounds 1.8m project by Hexham Abbey.
It means that plans can now be developed for a major heritage regeneration project which aims to breathe life back into former monastic buildings adjoining the abbey.
The project has been awarded pounds 175,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund to help develop plans which include re-acquiring and refurbishing the Carnaby Building and monastic workshops adjoining the abbey, which were lost to the church at the time of the Reformation.
The Carnaby building was last used by Northumberland County Council social services department but has been empty for more than a year.
Project manager Fiona Standfield said: "A lot of money will have to be spent to consolidate the building."
The abbey proposals for use of the building include interpretation and education centres and space for community uses.
The building would be used to tell the story of Hexham, the role of the abbey in its history and Northumberland as a cradle of Christianity.
"Hexham has a huge amount of heritage and history and the project would mean we would be in a position to share that with people," said Fiona.
It would also be an opportunity to display Roman, Anglo-Saxon and medieval items from the abbey's collection. The abbey now has two years to develop its plans.
The Heritage Lottery Fund's head for the North East, Ivor Crowther, said: "Hexham Abbey is one of the North East's most significant buildings and has fascinating links with the growth of early Christianity, not just in Northumberland but across the UK.
"The Heritage Lottery Fund's initial support means that the Abbey can now develop its plans to help people learn more about the abbey's remarkable treasures, and bring the historic buildings around it back into daily use."
Hexham Abbey was founded by St Wilfrid in the Seventh Century.
Canon Graham Usher, speaking on behalf of Hexham Abbey, said, "I am delighted that the Hexham Abbey Project has captured the imagination of the Heritage Lottery Fund. The community at Hexham Abbey is most grateful to the Trustees for this initial support.
"If successful at second-round the project will enable the abbey to restore significant medieval buildings, but it will also open up a greater understanding of the unique history of this site, and make an important economic contribution to the town."
SITE SHORTLIST HERITAGE sites in the North East which are in need of restoration will compete for a share of a cash fund. …