Hall restoration secures funding

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THE restoration of an historic country house is set to begin next week after the last of the project funding was secured.

Abbot’s Hall, an 18th century Queen Anne house set within the Museum of East Anglian Life (Meal) site in Stowmarket, is being restored and opened to the public for the first time as part of a £2.8 million project.

Suffolk County Council and Mid Suffolk District Council are acting as lenders of last resort, giving a combined total of £250,000 in loans.

Tony Butler, museum director, said: “This is to ensure that the funding is in place and to aid cash flow.

“We have funding from trusts and foundations in the pipeline and we are pretty confident that we will raise the funds in that way, but this is just in case the funding doesn’t come through in time.”

The project will restore the Abbot’s Hall, its walled gardens, two nearby 18th century workers’ cottages and will also rebuild the former Bury St Edmunds Cattle Market Round House.

The project received £1.771 million – 69 percent of the total figure – from the Heritage Lottery Fund, as well as capital grants from Suffolk County Council and Mid Suffolk County Council amounting to £220,000.

Meal also received funding from trusts and foundations, including more than £100,000 from landfill site taxes which go towards good causes through the Suffolk Environment Trust.

Mr Butler said: “We have received significant sums from a range of trusts and foundations bringing quite a lot of external money into the area – 90 per cent of the funding has come from external sources and not from the tax payer, which is good.”

Construction will be carried out by local companies, and Meal aims to open Abbot’s Hall in March 2012.

“It’s all good for the local economy and it helps with the regeneration of Stowmarket,” said Mr Butler.