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Town buys theatre and swimming pool at historic convent for £325,000

PUBLISHED: 15:27 25 June 2020 | UPDATED: 15:27 25 June 2020

Swaffham Town Focus - Sacred Heart Convent on Mangate Street. Picture Matthew Usher.

Swaffham Town Focus - Sacred Heart Convent on Mangate Street. Picture Matthew Usher.

Archant © 2011 01603 772434

A Norfolk town council has spent £325,000 to buy a theatre and swimming pool in the grounds of a former convent school.

The Sacred Heart Barn Theatre and Swimming Pool have been sold. Pic: Brown & CoThe Sacred Heart Barn Theatre and Swimming Pool have been sold. Pic: Brown & Co

Swaffham Town Council announced its bid to purchase the Sacred Heart Barn Theatre and swimming pool had been accepted by the trustees.

The school, in Mangate Street, Swaffham gained stardom when it was filmed by Channel 5 for a series about a group of five party girls spending a month with the school’s sisters.

It was run since 1914 by a religious group called the Daughters of Divine Charity, with around 160 pupils across a nursery, lower and senior schools.

It is now Cared Heart Catholic Primary School.

The participants of Channel 5 show Bad Habits, Holy Orders, filmed at the Sacred Heart Convent in Swaffham,  Pictured are (from left) Gabby Ryan, Sarah Chelsea, sister Michaela Switaj and Tyler Lawrence. Picture: ArchantThe participants of Channel 5 show Bad Habits, Holy Orders, filmed at the Sacred Heart Convent in Swaffham, Pictured are (from left) Gabby Ryan, Sarah Chelsea, sister Michaela Switaj and Tyler Lawrence. Picture: Archant

Town mayor Jill Skinner said: “This is an exciting opportunity for the town to have access to the Barn Theatre and Swimming Pool, both previously used almost exclusively by the Sacred Heart School.

“By opening up these facilities to the general public, they become community assets for the town. We had to move quickly to secure the property: now the hard work starts.”

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On June 18 an independent valuation of the facilities was considered, before the council made a formal offer at the full asking price of £325,000.

In the coming weeks, the council will talk with potential partners, managers, grant funders and user groups to finalise the project.

Mrs Skinner said: “We will be looking for the endorsement of the town and would welcome all views at the appropriate time, with of course your support. Please let us know if you want to help.”

It was also agreed to instruct the town clerk to apply for permission to borrow from the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

A spokesperson from Swaffham Town Council said: “There are financial options still to finalise, solicitors and surveyors to appoint, due diligence and feasibility study to complete and discussions to be had with grant funders to improve the facilities and with third parties regarding the prospect of managing the building via a new or existing charitable trust.

“It is important that all of this work is now carried out concurrently and concluded in the coming weeks.”


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