Rare medieval walls repaired and protected in Bedford after £114,000 grant

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Two medieval priory walls at risk of collapse in Bedford have been repaired and protected, thanks to a £114,000 grant from Historic England.

The Newnham Priory's walls, which date back to 1166, were listed as high risk and vulnerable to deterioration, collapse, plant growth and vandalism.

Historic England awarded the grant to Bedford Borough Council to ensure the repair and consolidations of the wall remains, which are among the most ancient religious foundations in Bedfordshire.

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Tony Calladine, regional director for Historic England in the East of England said: “Historic England is delighted to have grant funded this project to protect these rare and important medieval remains.

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"The repair work has been carried out with meticulous care and skill, ensuring that local residents have a physical connection with their medieval ancestors for generations to come.”

Bedford-based stonemasons Corinthian Stone carried out the specialist repair work.

The family-run business have been restoring for the region’s most important historic buildings for many years and brought their expertise and skilled craftsmanship to this vital project.

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Detailed repair works were completed with a lime mortar cap to the wall.

Bedford Borough Council contributed £34,500 match funding to the project.

Councillor Charles Royden, Portfolio Holder for Environment, Bedford Borough Council said: “It has been fantastic to see the repair and conservation works to Newnham Priory Precinct Wall, and the Council is proud to have worked with Historic England and others in securing the future of this nationally important monument.

“These repair works were led by Historic England’s Heritage at Risk team and the Council’s Archaeology Team, undertaken by local stonemasons and aided by the Parks Team and its brilliant volunteers.

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"There has been a lot of public interest in these repair works, and it is hoped that the new heritage interpretation board will build on this, telling people about the history of the Priory, the recent repairs, and the birds, bees and lichen that have made the precinct wall their home.”

Newnham was an Augustinian priory founded by Simon de Beauchamp in 1166 and built after the accession of Henry II.

The house stood in an enclosure of 35 acres bordered by a rampart, moat and the Great River Ouse.

Archaeological investigations found below-ground remains of the church, cloister, cemetery, kitchen, workshops and dovecote.