Bristol priory gets £3m lottery grant
Bristol's oldest building, the Grade I-listed St James Priory, has been awarded £3 million by the Heritage Lottery Fund for repairs, restoration and development.
The priory, which was founded in the 12th century by Benedictine monks who helped the city's poor and sick, is in Whitson Street, next to the bus station.
It is now home to a residential drug rehabilitation centre. Mass is still celebrated in the priory church every Sunday morning.
The church itself is considered to be of outstanding architectural and historic interest.
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It is at the heart of the 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 funds was support by people in the city and all over the country. Bristol resident and TV personality Tony Robinson, together with Grand Design's Kevin McCloud, backed the cause.
Susan Jotcham, director of the St James Priory Project said: "This is absolutely fantastic news.
"For 16 year, 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, whilst 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 crackerjack.co.uk/bristol/art" target=_blank>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."