The Delapre Abbey restoration project will open it’s doors to the public for the first time in it’s 900 hundred year history and could create up to 30 jobs for residents during peak-season.
Following extensive renovation work, which has cost the Northampton Borough Council £1.5 million over budget, the abbey will play host to five visitor zones including an interactive nunnery exhibition that will bring to light the former living arrangements of the nuns in 1169.
As well as this, the opening is also set to enhance the park, while attracting national and regional visitors to the town.
Rachael Boyd Director of Delapre Abbey Preservation Trust told the Chronicle & Echo that the increased costs can be justified.
She said: “I think that this building deserves to have everything done properly. For the people of Northampton that investment will grow and really come to fruition in the future.
“All of the commercial work that we do will continue to be ploughed back into this building and back to taxpayers as well. It’s not plugging a gap, it’s about making something sustainable. If you do something and follow it through the building will survive into the future.
“What we have created is a genuine future, which will be able to live, breath and stand on its own two feet. We are an independent charitable trust that has taken it on and this building is about saying let’s find ways of making sure we will never have to save this building again.
The council project was awarded £3.6 million of Heritage Lottery Funding towards the overall cost of £6.3 million for the restoration works but the cost of refurbishing Delapre Abbey in Northampton has increased by another £650,000, it was revealed yesterday.
She adds: “We are recruiting at the moment for a reception team and for a cafe team, so it will depend on the time of the year. In the peak season, we will probably have 30 people and we might have slightly less in the winter.”
An opening date still hasn’t been decided but it is thought that the grade II listed building will be open in time to welcome visitors throughout the summer.
On asking about the former tea room, she said: “There isn’t a tea room anymore, and I know lots of people loved the tea room but I think that they’ll come here and find a bit of what they loved and something very new as well.”
The new conservatory will cater for about 80 people and a further 40 people can also dine in the billiard room.
The caterers at Delapre Abbey are said to be recruiting local people and 50 per cent of their products will be sourced locally.
Councillor Johnathon Nunn told the Chron he believes the restoration project will bring in new visitors from elsewhere and will improve the local economy.
He said: “I’m hoping we will get local people and people from slightly wider to have a look at Delapre Abbey. There are real dedicated fans of country houses and hopefully we will see them coming in.
“The other thing it does, Northampton has unique assets that people don’t recognise, the history and heritage that is quite unique. There are very few towns that have so much heritage we should make that one of the reasons people should come to Northampton.”