Culture Minister gets Hands on with his Heritage at Neath Abbey

Tuesday 23 April 2013

John Griffiths AM got stuck into his new role as Wales’s Minister for Culture and Sport last week with a visit to Carew Castle and Neath Abbey and Gatehouse, where he officially opened Carew Castle after a busy schedule of works over the winter, and met a team of experts helping to conserve Neath Abbey.

Culture Minister gets hands on with his heritage at Neath Abbey

Culture Minister gets hands on with his heritage at Neath Abbey

The Minister, whose responsibilities include the protection and conservation of ancient monuments and historic buildings in Wales, their promotion as visitor attractions and heritage-led regeneration, was given a tour of the castle and a talk from Cadw – the Welsh Government’s historic environment service at the Abbey about the conservation work that’s currently underway.

Carew Castle is one of the schemes to benefit from Cadw’s Heritage Tourism Project which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.  Funding has also been invested by the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority. The renovation plans include the restoration of the Lesser Hall roof to create an all weather events space for a wide range of new activities and community uses; a new visitor centre and shop, as well as car park enhancements.

Originally founded as a daughter house of Savigny in 1130, Neath Abbey was absorbed into the Cistercian order in 1147.  Today, fairly complete parts of the Abbey and a sixteenth century mansion remains, but some of the areas are in desperate need of repair.
Neal O’Leary, Head of Cadwraeth Cymru, Cadw’s in-house specialist conservation team, said: 'The high level of rainfall last summer and extreme weather over the winter months has had a bad effect on the building, causing damage to the Abbey’s stone work.'

'Our focus for the next six months will be to carry out detailed survey and recording work of the Abbey’s historic fabric.  A comprehensive programme of conservation work will be prepared and carried out by our in-house conservation team.  Using traditional building skills the team will ensure that the work they do, including masonry consolidation, dressed and decorative stonework, is done as sensitively as possible, and respects the historic significance of the Abbey.'

John Griffiths, Minister for Culture and Sport, added: 'Wales has a wealth of fascinating monuments that capture our unique past. It’s important that historic sites like Carew Castle and Neath Abbey are cared for and protected so that communities across the country can continue to explore and enjoy their local heritage. The conservation of our historical monuments plays an important role in ensuring many of these spectacular sites can be enjoyed by future generations.'

Carew Castle will be open to visitors throughout the summer. More information can be found on www.pembrokeshirecoast.org.uk. Neath Abbey will remain open to visitors throughout the conservation project. For more information about Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, find Cadw on Facebook and follow @CadwWales on Twitter to stay up to date with news and events.