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Phoenix from the flames - historic Cumbrian abbey gutted by arson restored to former glory

Restored Holme Cultram Abbey Photo: ITV Border

A historic west Cumbrian abbey badly damaged by arson has been restored to its former glory and reopened to the public.

The twelfth century Holme Cultram Abbey at Abbeytown was gutted in 2006 following a deliberate fire that saw the 17-year-old arsonist jailed for four years.

The blaze left the local community shocked and angered but determined to rebuild.

Today a celebration event is being held to mark the reopening with children from Holme Cultram Abbey Primary School looking round the building and archaeologists and volunteers on hand to show people round the dig taking place in the abbey grounds.

Abbey on fire in 2006 Credit: ITV Border

Villagers in Abbeytown and the abbey's church council have worked tirelessly to raise the thousands needed to carry out repairs.

Restoration has involved a new roof, new floor and a host of specialised techniques to renovate the building.

In addition, the Heritage Lottery supported Solway Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme has completed a project to improve the site for visitors by creating a new exhibition, accessible spaces, toilets and a tea room.

Holme Cultram Abbey was founded in 1150 and was one of the most important Medieval monasteries in the North of England.

Now the parish church of St Mary, the Abbey contains a whole wealth of historic features and is a spectacular historic building. The Cistercian monks were skilled in the management of land and their 400 years of settlement changed the face of the Solway landscape forever.

The abbey is in the heart of the community and the Solway Plain and attracts visitors from all over the world.

Inside the abbey after being gutted by blaze Credit: ITV Border

Below is the ITV Border report on the fire back in 2006.