Malmesbury Abbey looks forward to welcoming VIP guest

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Rosie Archer and Rob Hinwood prepare for a performance of the Nativity at Malmesbury Abbey Rosie Archer and Rob Hinwood prepare for a performance of the Nativity at Malmesbury Abbey

A high-profile visitor has been announced at Malmesbury Abbey, just as a three-year major restoration project costing hundreds of thousands of pounds draws to a close.

Preparations are in place to welcome the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, who has announced he will be coming to Malmesbury on September 13.

Meanwhile, visitors will be relieved to see scaffolding come down at the east end of Malmesbury Abbey to mark the end of a scheme to repair the iconic ruined arch.

The Rev Neill Archer, who celebrates his 10-year anniversary at the Abbey on Easter Day, in April, said of the Archbishop’s visit: “I’m looking forward to it immensely.

“I think he is a really exciting leader for the church and him being here will have an impact on the community.

“I am looking forward to having him here and showing him Malmesbury.”

Work in January will see the old paving stones leading to the ancient monument re-laid and flattened after years of use and movement have caused them to stick out hazardously.

Mr Archer said: “We will be taking the scaffolding down and from further away you will still see the beautiful, iconic, ruined arch as before, but when you look more closely you will see that the people who have been working on it have preserved it for another 100 years with the work that has taken place on the stone and mortar.

“English Heritage has been a great partner in the work.

“There is still unseen work going on, such as the heating or work going on in the roof, which is just ongoing work towards the upkeep of the building.”

The architect for the Abbey, Ptolemy Dean, is also the architect for Westminster Abbey.

Meanwhile, over the Christmas period, the Abbey is hosting a Nativity performed by adults.

It will mix a traditional Nativity with Wiltshire charcters from the past. As well as a visit from the Archbishop of Canterbury, next year’s plans also feature the return of the Abbey Skatepark from February 19 to February 21.

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