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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

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Furness heritage site to close to public for flood repairs

A POPULAR heritage site is closing to the public for a few weeks to repair flood damage.

Furness Abbey is shut from today to allow for work to repair pathways and access routes that were washed away during the floods in November.

English Heritage said the abbey itself was structurally sound but it had been consulting with agencies, such as the Environment Agency, about the situation with nearby drains.

Furness Abbey was Britain’s second richest and most powerful Cistercian monastery.

In April, it was revealed that the grave of a prosperous medieval abbot had been excavated at Furness Abbey, uncovering the first crozier to be found in Britain in more than 50 years and an impressive gemstone ring.

It is hoped the 12th century abbey will reopen on the weekend of February 2 and 3. Until March 28 the abbey is only open to the public at weekends between 10am to 6pm.

Maddy Wall, communication manager, for English Heritage said: “As the abbey sits at the bottom of a hill and the site is in a natural dip it tends to become waterlogged during periods of continual rain.

“Early this year, we became concerned that the situation with the floodwaters was not improving. We have consulted a number of agencies looking into the recent floods in the area and it has been confirmed that issues with nearby drains have affected the site.

“The abbey itself is fine, but the paths and access routes around the site need repairing.

“Now the flood waters are receding, we plan to close the site from this weekend to clean and repair the paths and prepare it for 2013.”

Furness Abbey Fellowship has welcomed English Heritage’s work. The group wants the abbey to attract more visitors and it has plans for a summer event.

Gill Jepson, from Furness Abbey Fellowship, said: “We have been really concerned about Furness Abbey over the winter, especially with the flooding.

“It is really heartening they (English Heritage) are taking it this seriously. It makes me feel they are serious about the abbey. We are happy to see the look of the abbey improved.”

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