Delapre Abbey, situated on the edge of Northampton, is a Grade II* redundant country house with 12th Century Convent origins, converted to a house in the 16th Century. Following our Options Appraisal in 2009, Purcell was commissioned by Northampton Borough Council (NBC) in 2012 as Lead Consultant of a full Design Team to undertake the design for the regeneration of the Abbey and its buildings, including the conservation and repair of the fabric and provision of enhanced facilities to secure the future of the site.

The Phase 1 project brings substantial parts of the Abbey and outbuildings back into public use as an events space and visitor asset, whilst ensuring that the building is appropriately protected through necessary repairs to its fabric.

The Purcell team helped NBC to successfully obtain a major grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and deliver their project. Work commenced on site in March 2015 and completed in February 2017.

The works include the external fabric and structural repair of the main Abbey building, including all roofs and key primary rooms in the South Range for public functions and events. The Billiard Room and a new Conservatory will provide a high-quality catering facility for all users of the Abbey and the 18th Century Stables will be used for visitor reception and orientation, interpretation, learning, shops and WCs.

Careful planning has enabled NBC to maximise flexibility of use; the reception, shop and café are in the stable block with the educational community spaces in an adjacent coach house so that either can be used independently out of hours. The new-build conservatory and commercial catering kitchen for major events can also be used independently, allowing the rest of the Abbey to remain secure.

These arrangements allow the client to maximise the opportunities for income generation which in turn helps to make the business and the historic buildings sustainable. Close liaison with the client’s exhibition and lighting designer has enabled a new visitor route to be established through the 16th and 17th Century panelled rooms of the north and east ranges, greatly improving the visitor experience.