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A LISTED building will be opened to the public for the first time in more than 20 years after being given £670,800 of Heritage Lottery funding.

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Upminster Old Chapel, which is in the grounds of Sacred Heart of Mary Girls’ School in St Mary’s Lane, was closed in 1987 and is now on English Heritage’s At Risk Register.

But the approval of a grant, announced today (Monday), from the Heritage Lottery Fund will enable the nonconformist chapel to be restored and reopened to the public in the future.

The chapel will be put to use as a heritage centre offering opportunities for people to get involved through education and volunteer-based activities.

A permanent exhibition will be created and there will be historical character tours led by students and volunteers, bringing the history of the chapel to life.

Other work will include installing toilets, a kitchen and meeting spaces.

Bernadette Williams, head teacher at Sacred Heart of Mary Girls’ School, said: “The school is absolutely delighted to receive the news that the Heritage Lottery Fund is supporting our bid for £670,800 - this will enable us to lovingly restore and renovate Upminster Old Chapel.

“This is a very exciting time for us. As a result of our successful bid we will be able to promote the history and heritage of Upminster.”

Five other projects in London were also given funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Sue Bowers, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for London, said: “There are countless hidden histories across the capital that play a vital part in our understanding of our heritage.

“At an exciting time when East End boroughs are watching the changes around them as the Olympic Park takes shape, we must not forget the stories of people who have lived their lives on this site for many years before.”

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