December 9 2013 Latest news:
By MARK BOGGIS
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
It is one of Suffolk’s most treasured landmarks.
And now, the future of the historic site – which is home to a 780-year-old Franciscan monastery and 14-acres (5.6 ha) of park and woodlands – is now more secure.
The task of managing and maintaining Dunwich Greyfriars was formally handed over to a charitable trust at a special ceremony at the Greyfriars site yesterday
Dunwich Greyfriars, which is based at Monastery Hill in Dunwich, is one of the last Suffolk County Council recreation sites to be handed over to local groups.
And after being transferred to the trust established in its name, group members are looking forward to a bright new future for this popular tourist attraction.
The trust, which was formed by a small group of dedicated local residents, will now manage and maintain the local landmark.
Prior to the transfer, the ruins of the Greyfriars monastery had been identified as a building at risk.
However, English Heritage and Suffolk County Council came together and jointly funded the restoration of the perimeter walls, remaining buildings and conservation of the site.
As a result, the structure is now in good condition and will be looked after by the local community.
The trust is funded by its membership, which is drawn from residents, visitors and others with an interest in the history of Dunwich. Its attraction sees numerous local people from the village and craftsmen volunteer on the site, doing conservation tasks in both the monastery and woodland.
Geoff Abell, chairman of the Dunwich Greyfriars Trust, said: “Dunwich is delighted to have taken over this beautiful and iconic site in the centre of the village.
“It is almost the last standing reminder of the importance of the medieval town, and we and our team of volunteers look forward to conserving and interpreting it for the enjoyment of the villagers and our many visitors.”
With the site open to the public at all times, Richard Smith, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for economic development, environment and planning, said: “Dunwich Greyfriars is such an important part of Suffolk’s rich heritage that it is essential that we are able to find a way of protecting it and securing the investment it needs.
“The Dunwich Greyfriars Trust and the local people at the heart of it must be congratulated for what they have achieved. We are absolutely delighted that district councils, parish councils, community groups and private individuals have worked with us to ensure that these hugely important community assets are protected for local people and visitors to the county,” he added.