St. Bees Priory Parochial Council – Old College Hall Restoration Project

The project restored and renovated a Grade 1 listed hall for use for music and drama rehearsal and performance, lectures and conferencing, arts exhibition and a permanent history display . The original building was the Priory chancel (13th century) which was restored to be a lecture theatre for the Theological College in the early nineteenth century. The project restored it to this latter appearance and will bring back into use a smaller performance venue.

Ian McAndrew, Priory Properties Manager and project lead said,
“OCH is one of the finest medieval halls in Cumbria, but because of water ingress due to a failing roof, plaster falls and general dampness as a result of improper paintwork applied decades earlier, it had reached the stage where it could no longer be used. The work these grants funded has saved the hall and restored it to its original splendour and to regular use.”

Ian added “It is regularly used by Priory Singers and church choirs, both as rehearsal and performance space, two village orchestras (junior and senior) which have been formed since the hall became available, meeting place for church and community events, wedding receptions, regular art exhibitions, as well as an assorted number of other events. The universal reaction from those viewing the hall for the first time is one of unqualified admiration for the architecture and general appearance.”

Other funding was provided by English Heritage,The Priory Fabric Fund,Friends of the Priory, WREN, and donations.


  • 100 sq metres of refurbished floorspace
  • £59,178 additional funding drawn into the area
  • 1 new/improved cultural facillity


  • Making the building secure from further damage and deterioration
  • An improved community facility for participative arts and heritage
  • An adequate storage area