Ancient priory's lotto windfall

If you are looking for drama, intrigue and scandal - with the odd ghostly legend thrown in for good measure - Binham Priory has it all.And now visitors will have the chance to learn more about this remarkable site thanks to a share of more than £850,000 in lottery cash.

By TARA GREAVES

If you are looking for drama, intrigue and scandal - with the odd ghostly legend thrown in for good measure - Binham Priory has it all.

And now visitors will have the chance to learn more about this remarkable site thanks to a share of more than £850,000 in lottery cash.

The scheduled ancient monument, with its grade I listed church, has been awarded £648,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) - with a further £207,000 grant for Norfolk Wildlife Trust.

Funds will be used to complete urgent work at Binham, alongside improvements to enhance its status as a visitor attraction.

The gatehouse area will be restored and landscaped, paths and lighting improved, and a second entrance to the church created to provide a level entryway.

Most Read

Display boards and other interpretation will be completely overhauled to bring the priory's past to life.

A small extension will be built alongside the church to house facilities for all visitors.

Volunteers will be trained as guides, and leaflets, trails, a teachers' pack and website will be created to engage as many people as possible.

As a result of HLF funding, Binham priory officials believe it will be a more enjoyable place for schools, community groups and local people to visit.

Pauline Scott, of Binham Priory Trust, said: "We are delighted to receive this substantial grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for our partnership project between Binham Priory church community and the Norfolk Archaeological Trust. The success of this project will ensure that future generations of visitors will be welcomed to this Benedictine monastic site and our village church."

Norfolk Wildlife Trust is also celebrating a £207,000 grant, which will help the public to learn more about the many habitats on their doorstep and become more involved in the conservation of the county's wild spaces and ensure they are protected for the future.

A wildlife and community officer will run the project for three years, recruiting and training teams of volunteers and setting up a free wildlife information and advice service for people across Norfolk.

This will include a telephone Wildline and helpdesk, staffed by volunteers, to respond to inquiries from the public, and new pages on the trust website giving information on species distinctive to the county.

Up to 150 volunteers will be involved, running Wildline, workshops and talks, with the aim of bringing communities together to record, celebrate and enhance wildlife locally.

It is hoped that 2,500 people will attend these events, and organisers expect up to 1,000 enquiries to the wildlife information service each year.

Brendan Joyce, director of Norfolk Wildlife Trust, said: "This funding will enable us to involve people across Norfolk in discovering, enjoying and recording the wildlife in their own local area. We are lucky in Norfolk still to have fantastic wildlife such as barn owls and wild orchids in many areas of countryside and not just on nature reserves.

"Everyone can help wildlife, whether in the countryside or towns, and the new information service will make it easy for people to find out how. The great thing about wildlife is once you get interested there is something new to discover every day."

The surveys will be carefully designed so that those who have never participated in a wildlife survey before will find it fun and easy to do so.

By the end of the three-year project it is hoped that many more people will have come to value the wildlife in their local area, and developed their enthusiasm and interest in conservation.