There has been a church on the site of Hexham Abbey for over 1300 years and additions have been made every century since. The client’s brief was to reunite all the buildings on site for the first time since the reformation – one of the most significant events in the Abbey’s history.

The works would also enable accessible community and visitor facilities which included new exhibition spaces, a new café restaurant, one education room, three function rooms/community events spaces and offices.

Due to several phases of alterations over the years, the existing buildings were a tangle of poorly connected rooms. The team carried out an appraisal of the significance of internal walls and phases of the building in order to plan for bold changes that opened up the spaces.

A new oak framed cloister entrance serves both the Abbey and the visitor facilities, connecting all under one roof. The sympathetically refurbished interior of the former monastic buildings now showcases the existing building’s historic significance and offers large open spaces for community events.

Unoccupied for three years, the site’s mechanical and electrical services were fully replaced. A servicing structure that respects the historic integrity of the building while allowing for necessary comfort was implemented.

The £2.5m restoration project was funded by grants awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The new Refectory Café has become a popular destination for visitors and the local community. Proceeds from the café are re-invested back into the church.

Purcell provided the Abbey with new exhibition space and the current showing is called ‘The Big Story’. It covers who the people of the Abbey are and what challenges they’ve overcome.

A beautifully designed, well-delivered new build and refurbishment project which provides important tourism and leisure facilities with both regional and local impact.

The judge's citation, RICS North East Renaissance Awards 2015

The Abbey is now able to host many different events with modern facilities to accommodate large groups of people.

The new staircase was key to opening up the building, improving accessibility and visitor circulation.