The churchyard at St Mary de Crypt, Southgate Street is temporarily closed, heralding the start of a major regeneration project.
The Norman church is Grade I listed. Next door, is the Tudor Old Crypt Schoolroom, the first free school in Gloucester. Alumni include Robert Raikes, founder of the Citizen, who is also buried in the church graveyard.
Both the church and schoolroom will be restored thanks to the ‘Discover DeCrypt’ project, which will bring them back into use as a community and arts venue, whilst also remaining a place of worship.
Once complete, the buildings will provide an affordable, accessible and well-equipped space for local community use, with a range of classes and workshops for adults and children and a varied programme of concerts, drama, poetry performance and art exhibitions.
So that the work can go ahead safely, the churchyard has temporarily closed for archaeological investigations before the building work starts in January 2018, and will reopen next spring. Access to the back of the Eastgate shopping centre will still be available along the Marylone and via Greyfriars. Work to clean the stained glass windows is currently underway.
Cllr Paul James, cabinet member for regeneration and the economy said: “St Mary De Crypt church is one of Gloucester’s unsung historical treasures. This project to restore it as a community and educational venue, as well as continuing as a place of worship, is a key part of the regeneration of Southgate Street.
“We are closing the churchyard as a temporary measure so that the project can get underway.”
Gloucester News Centre – http://gloucesternewscentre.co.uk