Hallelujah! Bath Abbey wins HLF support

Bath Abbey has received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a £10m bid for its Footprint project, a transformative programme of capital works, interpretation, collections care and sustainable energy.

Development funding of £389,000 has also been awarded to help progress plans to secure a full grant at a later date.

However, there is some serious fund-raising to be done now with £7 million pounds needed to unlock the many millions the Abbey should now be able to secure from HLF.

Bath Abbey - looking West
Bath Abbey – looking West
Bath Abbey - Looking East
Bath Abbey – Looking East

The £19.3 million Footprint project aims to carry out essential repairs to the Abbey’s collapsing floor, install a new eco-friendly heating system using Bath’s unique hot springs as a source of energy and enlarge capacity by creating 200 sq metres of new facilities to fulfil the Abbey as a place of congregation, equal access and hospitality.

A programme is also planned to record and interpret the Abbey’s 1,200 years of history and this iconic church for millions of visitors including educational visits.

Development funding of £389,000 has been awarded to help the Abbey progress its plans to secure the full grant in 2015. The Abbey is expected to use this to further develop its design plans and implement its interpretation programme which will then unlock the full award of £10 million.

The Abbey thanked its congregation, the local community and stakeholders who have worked so hard in supporting the funding application.

Bath Abbey's proposed Song School
Bath Abbey’s proposed Song School

Edward Mason, Rector of Bath Abbey, said: “We are all delighted to learn that we have secured initial support from HLF today. This is great news for the Abbey as well as the city of Bath and everyone who has put so much time and effort into this.

The Abbey has been at the centre of the Bath community for over 1,200 years. Footprint will make the Abbey fit for purpose and the changes will make it possible for current and future generations to use, understand and fully enjoy Bath Abbey. Thanks to the HLF, we are a huge step closer to achieving this.”

Bath Abbey - proposed Jackson extension
Bath Abbey – proposed Jackson extension

Laura Brown, Footprint Appeal Director, said: “We are thrilled to have the HLF’s support and are really grateful to everyone who has worked so hard to achieve this in a short space of time.

The essential groundwork is already completed: we’ve been granted planning and listed building consent by B&NES and we’ve already seen £2 million of investment, so together with the HLF’s support, we are in a very strong position.

Now of course the really hard but potentially very exciting work starts.

Bath Abbey
Left to Right: Katie McGill, Fundraising Administrator (seated); Sarah Jermyn, Footprint Project Administrator (seated); Laura Brown, Footprint Appeal Director (standing); Charles Curnock, Footprint Project Director

There are certainly big challenges ahead but the HLF’s decision is the best news we could have hoped for and makes the project a tangible reality.”

Nerys Watts, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said: “The great medieval Bath Abbey has a rich history, and the innovative Footprint project will ensure that this special place can continue to play a vital role in the lives of the thousands of people who visit every year.

Our initial support for the essential capital work plans, collections care and the use of sustainable energy will bring the Abbey into the 21st century, enabling people from Bath and further afield to enjoy this special place for many more years to come.”

In order to unlock the full award of £10 million from HLF, the Abbey will need to raise around £7 million in additional funding through a combination of grant-making trusts and foundations, plus donations from individuals. A major public appeal will be launched later on this year.