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Clare Priory wins top regional award

Father Bernard Rolls outside the Clare Priory extension as it was being done.
Father Bernard Rolls outside the Clare Priory extension as it was being done.

An award-winning innovative extension to the medieval Clare Priory, opened last year, has won another accolade.

It has been crowned the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ (Rics) Project of The Year in the East of England. It also won the best building conservation category.

Last year, the £1.3 million extension received the Best Public Service Building accolade in East Anglia in the LABC Building Excellence Awards.

Work was commissioned by the Order of Hermit Friars of St Augustine at the priory to enlarge the church, which was too small for its congregation.

The project was funded by parishioners and friends who raised £360,000.

This was matched by funds from the Augustinian Province of England and Scotland, with the parish fundraising team raising the remainder.

Prior and parish priest, Father David Middleton, said: “Since the opening of our new church in July 2013, we have been struck by the beautiful combination of new and medieval.

“The simple lines of our lovely little church are made clear, and the flint of the exterior wall creates a pleasing contrast with the thoroughly modern yet traditional materials used.

“The church is very quiet, while the setting of the altar and the arrangement of the seating provide a focus for the congregation in such a way that everyone feels very much a part of the celebration.”

Judges awarded Clare Priory Project of the Year because they said it represented the most outstanding example of the region’s property expertise.

They said: “It respects the scale of its setting and still provides for modern requirements. As well as providing an excellent example of conservation work, the new build is of a high quality design and construction.

“Furthermore, the priory has enhanced facilities that benefit the existing and wider communities.

“The project ensures that the future of this site is secure and will benefit many in years to come.

“Of all the high-quality projects that the judges visited this year, Clare Priory stood out as the one that deserved the accolade of being our Project of the Year.”

Clare Priory will be automatically entered into the national Rics grand final in London in October, where it will compete against other leading UK projects.

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