Future of ancient chapel secured after museum steps in to take over running

St Ives Chapel,

St Ives Chapel, - Credit: Archant

After months of uncertainty, the day-to-day running of the Bridge Chapel in St Ives will be taken over by the Norris Museum.

Agreed at a meeting of Cambridgeshire County Council’s assets and investment committee earlier this month, the museum will now be responsible for the running of the ancient monument, which, just a few months ago, was almost turned into a bar.

“The residents definitely wanted it to remain similar to what it is now but with greater use and more access,” county councillor for St Ives, and driving force behind the decision, Paul Bullen said.

“Because it’s an ancient monument it makes sense for the museum. The chapel is only one of a few in the country and it’s more than 500 years old.

“For me it’s very much what I believe in – localism- and bringing the power back to the local people to look after their own assets and make their own decisions.”

The site will still be under restrictions made by English Heritage, as well as being maintained by the county council.

But as part of its agreement, the Norris Museum will be in charge of managing the chapel via a booking system, judging what it can be used for, and the key.

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In a draft management agreement earlier this year, Sarah Russell, museum director, said: “By allying it [the chapel] with the Norris Museum, it will form a coherent heritage offer in the town and raise the profile of the chapel as a place to visit.”

The museum is also hoping to hold open sessions throughout the week with a volunteer to show visitors around the Grade-I listed building, and small information boards set up for more information.

A handover ceremony is expected to take place sometime next year.