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£50k to unlock the secrets of Medway's hidden manor

26 June

Students from Strood Academy are set to help unlock the past of one of Medway’s hidden heritage sites, thanks to a £50,000 National Lottery grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Temple Manor in Strood is a grade 1 listed stone hall, built by the Knights Templar in the 13th century. It’s steeped in history – but due to its location nestled within an industrial estate, few people even know it exists.

But all of that is about to change. Medway Council successfully bid for £50,000 from the HLF’s Young Roots programme to raise the profile of this medieval gem, and encourage young people to explore the rich heritage on offer there.

Raising the profile of Temple Manor

The National Lottery funding requires the council to develop its plan in close partnership with young people, and Strood Academy pupils have been involved since the beginning. Medway Council will now continue to work closely with the students, to bring Temple Manor to the forefront of Medway’s extensive heritage offer - providing a platform for this forgotten treasure to compete with the area’s many historic heavy weights such as Rochester Castle, Upnor Castle and Eastgate House.

Now funding has been secured, work will begin on enhancing the interpretation and facilities on offer for Temple Manor visitors, locally and from further afield. The students will research the history of the building and consider how best the details of its fascinating past can be conveyed in engaging and innovative ways.

Despite being in the early stages of the project, they’re already thinking about teaming up with universities in the South East to explore how virtual reality technology could be used to tell the Temple Manor story to visitors – especially younger audiences.

In the later stages of the project in summer 2018, once the interpretation work is complete, the Strood Academy students will shift their focus to the promotion and marketing of the heritage site.

Temple Manor is set to be central to one of the area’s many ambitious regenerations projects in the coming years. Temple Waterfront, the site of a former cement works and industrial timber yard, which is adjacent to the manor, has outline planning consent for a development including 620 homes.

It is thought this development will improve public access to the river and provide the opportunity to further develop cultural and leisure uses associated with Temple Manor.

Medway has rich heritage

Medway Council’s Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Community Services overseeing heritage, Cllr Howard Doe said: “This is fantastic news for Medway as a whole and for the young people at Strood Academy who can now continue their great work. This is a very exciting project and I look forward to seeing how the history behind Temple Manor will be brought to life over the next year.

“The manor really is a hidden gem, and it’s time to unlock the history behind it. We have such rich heritage here in Medway, and now Temple Manor can step into the spotlight alongside our other well known historical sites like Rochester Castle, Upnor Castle, Dickens’ Chalet, Eastgate House and more.

"Next week we'll also be launching Medway's revamped archives centre, which will allow members of the public to delve further into the area's fascinating history."

Medway Council’s Heritage Champion and Portfolio Holder for Inward Investment, Strategic Regeneration and Partnerships Cllr Rodney Chambers said: “I am very pleased the Heritage Lottery Fund has recognised the importance of this project. Thanks to National Lottery players, this funding will allow us to raise the profile of Temple Manor, which has sat under the radar for so long. It’s time to showcase this magnificent piece of history in Strood, and encourage more residents to embrace heritage on their doorstep.

“I’d like to thank Strood Academy pupils for all their hard work so far, and I look forward to seeing how the project progresses.”

Principal of Strood Academy Kim Gunn said: “We are absolutely delighted to be involved in such an exciting venture. Students have shown a real interest in the project already and the National Lottery funding will help them develop many skills including digital media and communication, alongside learning about an important local heritage site, which we hope will encourage more people to visit and learn about its history and relevance to the local area.”

Stuart McLeod, Head of HLF South East, said: “HLF’s Young Roots programme is all about giving young people the opportunity to develop their skills and connect with their local heritage. Thanks to National Lottery players, this project will help students to shine a light on a little-known treasure and develop fresh new ideas to preserve Temple Manor for the future.”