Funding boost for Birkenhead Priory

Plans to transform the museum area and overall visitor experience at Merseyside’s oldest still-standing building have been approved.

Birkenhead Priory is benefitting from investment of more than £350,000 under the Town Deal grants awarded to Birkenhead that will enable significant improvements to be carried out at the historic site, which originally dates back to the year 1150.

A key part of this investment will see the transformation of one of the most eye-catching parts of the existing Priory into a much-improved – and more accessible – visitor attraction.

The revamp of the ‘Undercroft’, which dates back to the 14th century and features an imposing – and intact – vaulted stone ceiling, will make for a much-enhanced visitor experience, enabling residents and visitors to gain an even greater insight into the history and heritage of this unique attraction.

Improvements supported by the Town Deal grant will also include the reinterpretation of displays to exhibit even more artefacts that tell visitors about the former monastery’s fascinating history, some using state-of-the-art museum equipment and technologies.

Visitors will be able to get a better view of the historic floor, with a new system to protect it from harm installed. Proposals have also been made to improve access to the Refectory space on the floor above with the installation of a platform lift.

Other improvements to the wider site included in the overall investment are repairs to the historic Chapter House chapel and the installation of a new landmark lighting system on the tower of St Mary’s Church, the only remains of the church, which occupied the site between 1819 and 1977.

Cllr Helen Cameron, Chair of the Tourism, Communities, Culture & Leisure committee for Wirral Council, said, “There are exciting plans to invest in, transform and improve the connection and accessibility of Birkenhead’s considerable heritage and historical assets.  

“Birkenhead Priory is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, which is the oldest form of heritage protection, so there are very few buildings of such national importance in the area. It is the oldest building in Merseyside still standing.

“This investment will not only help to protect and preserve this amazing site for many years to come, it will also encourage more and more people to come and visit and find out about its remarkable past – and maybe even return time and again to get involved in some of the wide range of events that take place there throughout the year.”

Image: Birkenhead Priory

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