Press releases and latest news

Heritage Lottery sculpture unveiled

18 February 2008

The history of England's oldest monastery, St Augustine's Abbey, was celebrated by Canterbury Christ Church University on Wednesday 13th February, thanks to a ten thousand pounds grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Sculptor Gary Newton, Dr Paul Daltonand Mike Butler with children from St Thomas's Roman Catholic Primary School </div> Sculptor Gary Newton, Dr Paul Dalton and Mike Butler with children from St Thomas’s Roman Catholic Primary School

The cash boost from the Heritage Lottery Fund enabled the University to commission a large stone memorial to commemorate St Augustine Abbey’s Outer Precinct - the remains of which stand in the University’s North Holmes Campus and are part of Canterbury’s World Heritage Site.  The memorial was created by local stone carver, Gary Newton, and depicts a 14th century monk working in the outer precinct, which housed, at the time, a vinery, bakehouse, brewhouse, orchards, bee hives and allotments.

The funding also saw the University install a large information panel and produce special leaflets to tell the story of the Outer Precinct to visitors and the local community.

The sculpture and information panel were officially unveiled on Wednesday 13th February by Dr Paul Dalton, the University’s Pro-Vice Chancellor (Dean of Arts and Humanities), in front of staff, students, children from St Thomas’s Roman Catholic Primary School and members of the World Heritage Site Committee. 

Dr Paul Dalton said: “The project highlights the fact that the University site sits within the former outer precinct of St Augustine’s Abbey, one of the greatest medieval abbeys in the country.  The origins of St Augustine’s Abbey date back to the end of the sixth century.  It became the burial site of archbishops of Canterbury and kings of Kent, and evolved by the time of the Dissolution in the 1530s into one of wealthiest monasteries in England and a major seat of learning. Today the Abbey and its precincts are part of the Canterbury World Heritage Site, which the University is delighted to be involved in celebrating and helping to interpret. The splendid stone carving that has been unveiled was commissioned to depict the activities carried out by the monks, including grape growing, wine production, fruit growing and bee keeping, and, together with the information panel and leaflet, shows the historical significance of the site.”

The University’s Arts Manager, Mike Butler, who oversaw the project, added: “This is an extremely important celebration of a World Heritage Site and a wonderful new piece of art for the University’s North Holmes Campus.”

Notes to Editor

If you would like an interview or image please contact Canterbury Christ Church University’s Media Relations Officer, Claire Draper, on 01227 782391.

Words of thanks

Dr Paul Dalton would like to express the following words of thanks.

“In celebrating this project I would like to express my warmest thanks on behalf of the University to the sculptor Gary Newton, for completing the stone carving and the design work for it, and his wife Heather who helped with this; the Heritage Lottery Fund for being the main sponsors; Paul Bennett and Mark Houliston from Canterbury Archaeological Trust for liaising with English Heritage about the installation and kindly providing the information for the panel and leaflet; Canterbury Archaeological Trust for archaeological excavations they have carried out on the University campus; the members of the World Heritage Site committee; the University estates and the gardening team for landscaping the site; and the children of St Thomas’s Roman Catholic Primary School, who have taken a keen interest in the project with their teacher Karen Dean.  I would finally like to thank the University Arts Manager, Mike Butler, whose imagination and energy as project fundraiser, coordinator and instigator was fundamental to securing the success of the project; and all came to attend this event.”

Background of St Augustine’s Abbey outer precinct

Canterbury Christ Church University’s North Holmes Campus stands on the site of the outer precinct of the Abbey of St Augustine.  This entire abbey site along with Canterbury Cathedral and St Martin’s Church, together form the Canterbury World Heritage Site.

Augustine and forty monks were sent from Rome in AD 597 by Pope St Gregory the Great on a Christian mission.  Augustine, with the blessing of the local King Ethelbert and his Christian Queen Bertha, founded a monastery outside the city walls which became known as St Augustine’s Abbey.  It was consecrated by Laurentius, Augustine’s successor in AD 613.  The abbey was run by Benedictine monks and despite Viking raids, grew and thrived over 900 years until 1538, when King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries.  The outer precinct of the monastery contained a brewhouse for ale making, a bakehouse, a store barn and cellarer’s hall. 

In 1320 a walled vineyard was added.  There were also probably orchards and allotments.  It was the place where food for the abbey was grown and prepared.

In 1962 Christ Church College was founded, on land which was the outer court or precinct of the abbey.  The College became a University in 2005.  The remains of the brewhouse / bakehouse range on the University’s campus is a stone and flint structure which survives to this day.

Heritage Lottery Fund

The Heritage Lottery Fund enables communities to celebrate, look after and learn more about our diverse heritage.  From museums and historic buildings to local parks and beauty spots or recording and celebrating traditions, customs and the history. Heritage Lottery Fund grants open up the nation’s heritage for everyone to enjoy.  Since 1994, it has supported more than 22,500 projects, allocating over £3.6 billion across the UK.

The Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Canterbury Christ Church University

The Faculty of Arts and Humanities includes six academic departments: Art, English and Language Studies, History and American Studies, Media, Music, and Theology and Religious Studies.  These departments offering an exciting and high quality range of single and combined honours undergraduate degree programmes, and certificate, diploma, masters and PhD postgraduate programmes.

Students studying an aspect or aspects of Arts and Humanities have, therefore, many exciting courses, options and forms of study to choose from.  Students also enjoy the benefits of learning within an environment where excellent teaching, informed and enriched by cutting-edge research and creativity, is practiced by supportive members of staff who are experts in their fields and care about the education and well being of their students.

Contacts

Claire Draper
Media Relations Officer
Canterbury Christ Church University
01227 782391, claire.draper@canterbury.ac.uk

Laura Jones
External Relations Assistant
Canterbury Christ Church University
01227 782826, laura.jones@canterbury.ac.uk

For media enquiries:

Press Office
01227 782391