£50,000 bid to restore Whalley Abbey 13th Century chapel and choir pits

ABBEY HABIT: From the left are Councillor Holgate, Ribble Valley Borough Council rural regeneration officer Craig Matthews, the Rt Rev. Goddard and Whalley Abbey manager Christine Nelson.
ABBEY HABIT: From the left are Councillor Holgate, Ribble Valley Borough Council rural regeneration officer Craig Matthews, the Rt Rev. Goddard and Whalley Abbey manager Christine Nelson.
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A 13th CENTURY chapel and choir pits at historic Whalley Abbey could receive a new lease of life if a £50,000 Lottery bid supported by Ribble Valley Borough Council is a success.

The council’s regeneration team is working with the Diocese of Blackburn, which owns the abbey, to target funding for the restoration of the Peter of Chester Chapel and Abbey Church choir pits.

The chapel has been closed to the public for several years, due to falling masonry, while the choir pits, the last remaining exposed choir pits in the country, have fallen into disrepair.

Ribble Valley councillor Joyce Holgate, who represents Whalley, said:“ “Whalley Abbey is one of Lancashire’s prime heritage assets and forms an important part of the borough’s historic environment.

“The Peter of Chester Chapel is one of the earliest remaining buildings at the site and is now closed to the public, while the choir pits located in the abbey ruins are one of the few remaining visible pits in England.

“Without renovation, these sites will be lost forever and the council is delighted to support the Diocese of Blackburn in its Lottery bid.”

The Rt Rev. John Goddard, chairman of the Board of Whalley Abbey, added: “Whalley Abbey is a heritage site of national importance and the support of Ribble Valley Borough Council in our Lottery bid is crucial.”

The Cistercian Abbey of Stanlow moved to Whalley from Cheshire in 1296. After the dissolution of the monastery in 1537, the property passed into private hands and was converted into an Elizabethan manor house. It remained a private residence until 1923, when the Church of England acquired possession

The Whalley Abbey Retreat House and Conference Centre, together with the abbey ruins, are now owned by the Diocese of Blackburn, which extensively modernised the site in 2005.

A decision on whether the abbey’s Lottery bid has been a success is expected shortly.