Today, history was made as Delapré Abbey, an exciting visitor attraction in Northamptonshire, opened its doors for its first guests to explore its 900 years of history.
English property developer and television presenter, Sarah Beeny, well-known for programmes such as Property Ladder and Britain’s Best Homes, was the special guest and cut the ribbon at the official opening.
The Abbey’s restoration has been delivered thanks to a National Lottery grant of £3.65 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), and a similar sum from Northampton Borough Council. With the remainder from a range of other charitable trusts and foundations, as well as the incredible generosity of private individuals and donors.
Jonathan Platt, Head of HLF East Midlands said: “We’re delighted that National Lottery players’ money has helped to conserve and enhance the building so that people can explore its fascinating history for the first time.”
Rachael Boyd, Director of Delaprè Abbey Preservation Trust (DAPT) added, “Today is an historic day for Delapré Abbey. Getting to this point has been a huge team effort, and I am very thankful to my team and the amazing group of volunteers. We look forward to welcoming visitors from Northamptonshire and across the UK to enjoy and explore Delapré Abbey.”
Inside the Abbey, there are five interactive storytelling zones to discover, which reveal the fascinating history of the building from its life as a nunnery, witnessing the events of the battle of Northampton unfold, through to its heyday as a scandal-ridden Victorian country home.
Over 100 volunteers and supporters have worked alongside staff, conservators and craftspeople over the last three years to bring the Abbey back to life and ensure that it continues to be a vibrant community hub, offering learning facilities and a sustainable wedding and functions venue – all set within beautiful gardens and public parkland.
History enthusiasts and families looking for a great day out can visit six days a week over the summer. Delapré Abbey will also be running a changing annual programme of events, workshops and activities, including regular weekend craft and food and drink markets which celebrate the best of what Northamptonshire has to offer.
Delapré Abbey is located in 600 acres of parkland in the centre of Northampton with easy access for visitors travelling by road or train. A visit will cost £7 adults, but children up to and including the age of 18 are entitled to free entry making it a great value day out for all.
Cllr Tim Hadland, Northampton Borough Council Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Enterprise and Planning said, “Delapré Abbey is something everyone in Northampton should be very proud of, and I am delighted with the progress the Delapré team have made. I encourage all residents to see for themselves how wonderful Delapré Abbey is.”
For more information about Delapré Abbey, visit www.delapreabbery.org you can also follow them on Twitter @DelapreAbbey.