Hexham Abbey, one of the North East's most important sites of Christian heritage, is to re-open to the public following £100,000 of essential maintenance work.
The Abbey, which closed in January 2018, will re-open from Monday 18, February following the work on its timber and stone.
The works form part of a much larger restoration programme which will take place over the next 2-3 years, the headline project being the new roof appeal, which is forecast to require around one million pounds of additional fundraising.
Rector of Hexham, Canon Dagmar Winter, said “We are delighted to be re-opening the Abbey around 2 weeks ahead of our original timetable, which also means we coincide with the regional school half-term holidays.
"Whilst we had some great services in our wonderful function rooms, the congregation is looking forward to worshipping in the Abbey again, with our regular Sunday services set to resume on the 24th February.”
Last year the Abbey welcomed around 120,000 people through the doors and whilst the closure period was chosen specifically at the quietest period of the year, the impact has been keenly felt in Hexham, with many shops and outlets reporting a decrease in trade.
Canon Winter added, “We are mindful of the impact the closure has had on the town and hope this welcome early conclusion to the works will mean our important local traders see a boost to their business. We have also lost valuable revenue during the closure in the form of donations and visitor spend in our gift shop and café, so it is fantastic to be open next week”
Cath Homer, cabinet member for culture, libraries, leisure and tourism from Northumberland County Council said: “The re-opening of Hexham Abbey is a welcome boost to the town and wider area and I am delighted the works have been completed early. The Abbey, like many of our historic regional attractions, is a keen supporter of our new ‘Discover our Land’ campaign, where we are shining a light on the county as somewhere to visit, raise a family, build a career and to establish, invest and grow a business.”