Bath Abbey Hosts Open Evening to Celebrate Completion of £21 Million Footprint Project

Bath Abbey hosted the Footprint Open Evening on 20th September to celebrate the completion of the £21 million Footprint Project. The multi-year Footprint Project was a transformational development project of restoration and conservation, and saw new education, music, and community spaces created within the Abbey. The project helped to secure the Abbey’s future for generations to come. The Open Evening was an opportunity to thank the Footprint Project’s many supporters, contractors, and donors for their generosity and engagement with the project, including the Abbey’s congregation and volunteers, The Friends of Bath Abbey, local and national Trusts and Foundations, and Footprint’s principal funder, The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Guests enjoyed a relaxed and informal evening, where they explored the new spaces created by the Footprint Project, including the new Discovery Centre, Learning Room, Song School and offices in Kingston Buildings. Bath Abbey’s Lay Clerks and Girls Choir performed at intervals throughout the event, led by the Abbey’s Director of Music, Huw Williams. Speeches were given by Reverend Canon Guy Bridgewater, Rector of Bath Abbey, Caroline Kay, representing Footprint’s principal funder The National Lottery Heritage Fund, and Andrew Bragg, Bath Abbey churchwarden and Chairman of the Footprint Project Board, thanking guests for their generous support of the Footprint Project.

The Footprint Project was about moving from past to future. Opening new spaces has allowed Bath Abbey to serve the community more widely and effectively. The Discovery Centre, which was opened in March 2023, tells the story of the Abbey up until the present day. Interactive exhibits, a dressing-up station and engaging animations allow visitors to learn at their own pace, with the museum space complementing the guided Abbey and Tower Tours that showcase the building.

The Learning Room is made use of by the community, including English lessons for Ukrainian refugees, The Cosy Place on Tuesdays to support our vulnerable local communities and regular creative family activities throughout the year. Visiting schools are based in the Learning Room, where our Learning Manager provides lessons and guided tours of the Abbey to support school curriculums. The new Song School, with its double-storey oak-lined rehearsal room and upgraded choir vestry and music library, welcomes a wide range of visiting musicians throughout the year, as well as providing stunning bespoke facilities which enable the musical output of the Abbey’s renowned choirs to go from strength to strength.

Alongside the opening of new spaces, the historic Abbey floor, made of 891 ledger stones, was saved from collapse and a new energy-efficient LED lighting system was installed. A highlight of the Footprint Project was the installation of underfloor heating in the Abbey, powered by renewable energy from Bath’s famous hot springs. This innovative new system reduces the Abbey’s carbon footprint, costs less money than the previous Victorian system, and allows Bath Abbey to help the Church of England meet its target of Net Zero Carbon by 2030.

Stuart McLeod, Director of England – London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We’re proud to have supported this transformational, once-in-a-lifetime project at Bath Abbey thanks to National Lottery players. The Abbey is in the heart of Bath and its community, offering a space for contemplation, worship and connection. Not only has this project ensured that the Abbey will continue its important role for generations to come, it has created new spaces that will connect even more people with its heritage.”

Stephen Girling, Bath Abbey’s Missioner, said, “We are grateful to all our supporters for their generosity, allowing us to transform the Abbey, to enhance our visitors’ offer and to conserve the building for future generations. The Footprint Open Evening was a wonderful opportunity to share what we have achieved together.”


Guests view exhibits in the new Discovery Centre.
Young children perform in Bath Abbey's double storey oak-lined Song School
Bath Abbey’s youth choir, Melody Makers, rehearsing in the new Song School – Event guests were invited to watch the rehearsal.
Caroline Kay from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Footprint’s principal funder, delivering her speech at the event with Revd Canon Guy Bridgewater, Rector of Bath Abbey, looking on.