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Exeter Roman baths project rejected for Lottery funding

Plans to uncover extensive remains of a first century Roman bath house in Exeter have stalled after the venture failed to attract funding.

Exeter Cathedral applied for Heritage Lottery funding to reveal the remains under Cathedral Green, which are believed to be the second most important building of their time in the country.

However the charity, which distributes National Lottery money, says more work must first be done to safeguard the future of the Cathedral itself.

Some of the greatest Roman remains in the West Country lie buried beneath Exeter Cathedral Green Credit: PA

We are very naturally very disappointed that our innovative proposal to uncover Exeter's most significant hidden treasure, the extensive remains of a first century Roman Bath house under Cathedral Green, has not been successful in attracting Heritage Lottery funding.

We had worked closely with English Heritage and other key bodies right up to the moment we submitted our bid, and had hoped that the project's vision - one shared by the people of Exeter and its civic and parliamentary leaders - would also inspire the HLF.

– The Very Revd Jonathan Draper, Dean and Chapter of Exeter Cathedral

The Cathedral unveiled details of its Foundations Project in February.

It submitted plans to excavate the remains of the Roman Bath House and hoped to build an underground visitor centre there. It is estimated that the attraction would bring an extra 100,000 visitors to the city each year.

HLF takes its role of investing National Lottery players' money extremely seriously and we only support projects that we are confident can deliver long-term benefits. In this case, we were concerned about the impact the development would have on the Cathedral itself. There was also a considerable partnership funding shortfall.

– Carole Souter, Chief Executive of HLF

Plans for Exeter's Roman remains to be revealed

Some of the greatest Roman remains in the West Country lie buried beneath Exeter Cathedral green Credit: PA

Exeter Cathedral will unveil details of its Foundations Project later today.

It has submitted plans to excavate the remains of a Roman Bath House which lie beneath Cathedral Green and hopes to build an underground visitor centre there.

It is estimated that the attraction would bring an extra 100,000 visitors to the city each year.

Bid to unearth Exeter's Roman Baths

Baths are buried under tonnes of earth Credit: Exeter Cathedral

Exeter's Roman Baths are believed to be the second most important building of their time in the country, except of course, you can't see them.

They are buried under tonnes of earth in front of the Cathedral. But now a bid for more than £8 million from the National Lottery has been submitted - to create a new visitor centre on the site. It could bring an extra one hundred thousand visitors a year to the city.

The Very Rev Jonathan Draper Dean says it seems a pity to have the site there unseen.

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A million people visit west country heritage sites

A million people visit west country heritage sites Credit: ITV News West Country

The Roman Baths and Stonehenge each saw over a million visitors this summer. VisitBritain say their figures show more people from oversees are heading to our stately homes and famous buildings with nearly 30 per cent of all visits to Britain including a trip to a heritage site.

Part of the appeal is being put down to tv series such as ITV's Downton Abbey. The Bath and Wiltshire hertitage sites are included in the most popular choices this summer.

Roman Bath wins gold at Tourism Awards

The Roman Baths attracts tourists from across the world Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Tourism businesses across the region have been honoured at an awards ceremony at the Eden Project in Cornwall.

It was a good night for the Roman Baths in Bath, which claimed gold for in the Large Tourism Attraction.

Lynx helicopters took to the skies alongside somewhat older aircraft at last year's Yeovilton Air Day Credit: ITV News West Country

And Yeovilton Air Day took joint gold for tourism event with the Falmouth Oyster Festival.

These were just two of many awards won by hotels and businesses at the event.

You can find out more here.