Security upgrade for Thetford Priory

One of East Anglia's finest monasteries has received a security upgrade after years of being a hive of antisocial activity and vandalism.Community leaders, local campaigners, and police, today welcomed the news that the latest phase of works to protect the Cluniac Priory in Thetford had been completed.

One of East Anglia's finest monasteries has received a security upgrade after years of being a hive of antisocial activity and vandalism.

Community leaders, local campaigners, and police, today welcomed the news that the latest phase of works to protect the Cluniac Priory in Thetford had been completed.

English Heritage has installed a new entrance gate and plugged the gaps of the boundary fencing of the 12th century site, which was once a magnet for pilgrims, but has been a meeting place for vandals in more recent times.

Thetford Town Council has also taken over responsibility of the day to day management of the priory ruins, which will involve the opening up and locking of the gates and the clearing of litter.

Stuart Wilson, local resident and Thetford Society, who submitted a dossier to English Heritage in 2005 cataloguing the misuse of the Abbeygate site, said he was “delighted” that the works had finally been completed.

“It is going to make a big difference and only very determined people will be able to get on to the site at night. English Heritage are to be complimented for their thoroughness and determination in completing this project,” he said.

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Celia Deeley, English Heritage's visitor operations director for the East, said that now the priory was properly protected, work could start to carry out repairs to its damaged flint walls.

“The new management arrangements with the town council should benefit the priory ruins and make the site a pleasant and attractive focus for local people as well as visitors to the town,” she said.

PC Keith Kenny, from the Thetford Safer Neighbourhood Team, added: “The installation of gates will help secure the site at night when vandalism has been a particular problem. The extension of the non-alcohol zone to include the priory, which was supported by English Heritage, will also help to reduce the problems.”