Millions to be invested in British heritage projects

The Heritage Lottery Fund is to invest £47m in six heritage projects in Britain, including Knole Park.

Knole, Kent © John Miller

The money will be divided between different tourist attractions, some already well established and others that have plenty of potential.

The future of the splendid Knole Park in Kent, a former hunting ground to Henry VIII, is secured with £7.75m granted to the former Archbishop’s palace and all of its treasured contents. The original 17th-century Knole settee, a solid silver table and fragile furniture from two royal residences are among unique historic treasures that belong to Knole and thanks to the money and a five-year conservation plan, will stay there. The National Trust have faced an ongoing battle with the expenses that a property such as Knole, the childhood home of writer and socialite Vita Sackville-West, incurs.

“Since acquiring Knole in 1946, the Trust has faced a running and expensive battle with the effects of rain, damp, mould and insects on the building and its unique collections,” said Emma Slocombe, National Trust curator at Knole. “To save these collections we need to conserve them. Having completed the first phase of emergency repairs, we can now concentrate on the interior of Knole.”

When the repairs have been completed in 2015, there will be more volunteering opportunities available at Knole and visitors will be able to watch experts as they painstakingly conserve treasures from the palace in a world-class conservation studio.

Meanwhile, £10.5m of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s investment has been awarded to Winchester Cathedral to enable essential repairs to its structure and to conserve the beautiful medieval windows. It will also result in the development of three new major exhibitions – one of which will offer a rolling display of the cathedral’s archives and allow the 17th-century Morley Library to be accessed.

The largest share of the Heritage Lottery Fund investment will go to Flax Mill Maltings in Shropshire, which will receive £12.8m to develop a complex of 18th- and 19th-century industrial buildings in Shrewsbury, which already includes the world’s first iron-framed building – a forerunner to the modern skyscraper.

A new museum – to be part of the existing Windermere Steamboat Museum in Cumbria – will be built on Lake Windermere, providing excellent information on the history of boat-building in the area, while Chester Farm in Northamptonshire has secured £4m in grants to restore the Grade I and II listed buildings currently at risk there. Brecknock Museum and Art Gallery, regarded as one of the finest examples of early Victorian Greek revival architecture in Wales, has been awarded £2.5m to ensure repairs to the roof and stonework.

Carole Souter, Chief Executive of The Heritage Lottery fund explained that the grants would contribute to the UK heritage tourism industry. “These projects all offer the public the chance to explore and enjoy our rich and complex history,” she said.

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