Two-thirds of Bath Abbey’s historic floor have now been fully restored and saved from collapse as part of Phase 2 of the Abbey’s Footprint project – with work on the final phase due to commence next week.
Just this week, the hoardings have come down on the north side of the Abbey revealing the newly restored floor in this area including the north aisle, north transept and part of the nave. Once the Footprint project is completed next spring, an eco-friendly underfloor heating using sustainable energy from Bath’s hot springs will be installed throughout, and the Abbey will be opened up to be enjoyed in its full glory by future generations.
Work on the Footprint project started in the Abbey in May 2018; the first phase of which involved restoring the east end of the Abbey which was completed last June. Since then, essential work has been taking place over the last 6-8 months in the north side of the church in order to stabilise and repair the collapsing floor in this area, with surface repairs being made to ensure the floor is even and accessible throughout. The historic ledgerstones, some dating back to the 17th century, have been reinstated and where needed, new stones have been re-laid depending on the level of damage to the original stones.
The additional benefits of the floor repair in the north of the Abbey are that, as part of the process, new steelwork has been installed to support the Abbey’s Klais organ which is regularly used for church services and concerts. Not only is this a major improvement to its supports long-term, it also means taking the load away from the floor, preventing damage to the repaired ledgerstones beneath.
The Reverend Canon Guy Bridgewater, Rector of Bath Abbey, said “A huge amount of work has been carried out by a fantastic team of builders, engineers, restorers and many other people. Now the hoardings have come down in the north side, we’re able to appreciate fully the fantastic job they’ve done in this area to repair our historic floor and the newly restored ledgerstones.
“With each passing month, we’re able to see more and more of the benefits the Footprint project will ultimately bring once completed. We’re extremely grateful to everyone who has supported the project. While we recognise there might be some disruption with a third of the Abbey being closed off for building work, we are grateful that we’re able to stay open throughout the process and welcome all who continue to come through our doors.”
The final phase of the Footprint project which incorporates redeveloping the south side of the historic church will commence next week. Building work is also taking place to create new space and improved facilities in the underground vaults between Bath Abbey and Abbey Chambers, as well as in the adjacent terrace row of houses in Kingston Buildings which will house the new Song School.
The Abbey’s Footprint project is a £19.3 million programme of work, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, that will provide new spaces for learning, music and interpretation, better visitor facilities, undertake essential conservation work, as well as opportunities for volunteer and community involvement. It will secure the Abbey’s physical future and improve its hospitality, worship and service to the city. More information can be found on our website: www.bathabbey.org.