Urgent building works to preserve parts of Great Malvern Priory can begin in the summer thanks to a grant of £83,400 received from the Heritage Lottery Fund. A further £55,000, from four other charitable trusts, has also been given to the Priory to support the restoration works. Work to the North Porch will stabilise the pinnacles, restore the carved detail and clean the stonework. Other major works include rebuilding a decaying section of the West Wall.

Revd Rod Corke, vicar of the Priory, said, “I am thrilled with the generosity of the Heritage Lottery Fund. The work we need to do is vital and represents the crucial first stage of a wider restoration and development plan. Without help from money raised by the National Lottery players and from the charitable trusts, we would be struggling to keep this lovely building safe and welcoming.”

Lifepath at Great Malvern Priory

Several activities will be held throughout the year in order to encourage visitors to enjoy the building and learn about its heritage and the repair programme. Activities will include an Open Day during which stonemasons will demonstrate stone carving and mortar repair techniques. In June, hundreds of children from local primary schools will engage with the popular ‘Lifepath’ event, in which they will explore the lives of Benedictine monks who founded the Priory almost 1,000 years ago. The children will experience brass rubbing, hand-bell ringing and building arches, in addition to learning about medieval diets and medicines. Guided tours, displays and musical recitals will also take place inside the building.

“It is important for us to open our doors to visitors so that they can see the beauty of the building we so enjoy,” Rod continued. “We want as many people as possible to come and join us for musical events, lunchtime talks, entertainments and social activities in the church itself.”

During late April and early May, the Priory’s interior will be dramatically transformed to stage a Mystery Play. Mystery Plays were first created to complement the stories told in stained glass windows in churches. Great Malvern Priory was founded in 1085 as a daughter church to Westminster Abbey and has one of the country’s finest collections of fifteenth and early sixteenth century stained glass.

Rob Swinton, local man and director of the play, said, “The play will tell the story of the world from its beginning to its end. As well as actors, I need people to be part of a choir, plus instrumentalists, prop makers, costumiers, and folk to help with the quick changes.”

The cast will be formed of forty-six local people in a variety of roles, in addition to two professional actors who will take on the roles of God and Lucifer. Texts from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries will be combined to produce the script and costumes will be modern to show that evil characters still exist in the world today.

“We are very grateful to the National Lottery players through the Heritage Lottery Fund for their generosity,” Rob continued. “Without their help it would be difficult to stage something which will hopefully bring thousands of people into our beautiful building.”

To find out more about supporting the Mystery Play, meet with Rob Swinton in the Priory at 2pm on either Saturday 16th February, or Saturday 23rd February. Further details about the Priory and its upcoming events are available from Mary Johns, who can be contacted by telephone on 01684 564 050, or by email on maryrowswell@btinternet.com