Somerset

Bath Abbey's east wing opens after restoration

East Wing of Bath Abbey Image copyright PA
Image caption The east wing of Bath Abbey has now been re-opened

A multimillion-pound project to restore the crumbling floor of a historic abbey has reached a significant milestone.

The east wing of Bath Abbey has re-opened after work to stabilise the surface and install under-floor heating was completed.

The first phase of the £19.3m project began in May 2018 and involved closing off the east end of the building.

Project director Alix Gilmer said: "This is a very exciting time for everyone at Bath Abbey."

The north of the abbey will now be closed off to carry out the same work.

Over the past year work has included installing a heating system that uses hot water from the Roman Baths, archaeological excavations and restoring ancient ledger-stones.

Rev Stephen Girling said: "We had to replace the floor which was sinking due to the number of bodies buried beneath, decomposing and creating voids into which the floor was sinking.

"That floor has been dug down to a metre and re-installed with the under-floor heating and the ledger-stones which record the names of the people buried there have been repaired and replaced so it's a wonderful newly repaired floor."

Image copyright PA
Image caption The ancient ledgerstones have been carefully restored or replaced
Image copyright PA
Image caption Underfloor heating using Bath's hot springs is now in operation
Image copyright PA
Image caption The Footprints project has cost nearly £20m

Archaeological digs have unearthed a wealth of discoveries, including a medieval tiled floor from the Norman cathedral that once stood on the site of the current abbey.

Phase two will take about a year to complete and will be followed by the final phase on the south side of the abbey.

The Footprint project has been supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

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