NORTON Priory Museum and Gardens will be transformed thanks to a £3.7 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The money will be used on the Monastery to Museum 900 project and the announcement today comes on the site's 900th birthday.

The project aims to preserve and restore the 12th century priory undercroft, exhibit the full breadth of the museum’s extensive collections and interpret the site’s 900 year history.

Architectural plans include increased exhibition spaces which will allow many more objects from the museum’s collection to be displayed for the first time, along with national loans.

Modern facilities and a new café will also much improve the visitor experience.

A new entranceway will put the medieval remains at the heart of the new centre.

In the undercroft, the 12th century stonework will be repointed and the colourful Victorian floor restored to its former glory.   

Clr Eddie Jones, from Halton Borough Council who are partners in the scheme said: "The council is proud and pleased to have successfully played our part in developing this ambitious and exciting scheme for living history with our excellent partners at Norton Priory.

"It is particularly gratifying that the HLF have recognised the hard work, creativity and dedication that has gone into this project; thus we are appreciative of their decision to support our vision for this important historical and very attractive site. We are all now committed to preserving this cultural gem of our Borough and further enhancing the fascinating visitor experience for our residents."

Paul Mathews, chairman of the trustees for Norton Priory added: "This grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund will enable us to match the wonderful work done by staff and volunteers in and for the community  with museum, gallery and cafe facilities that are state of the art."

Sara Hilton, head of Heritage Lottery Fund North West said: “Norton Priory has been witness to the ebb and flow of nearly a thousand years of social, political and religious change in the north west. 

"We thought this was an innovative and exciting project and by awarding a £3.7m grant the museum transformation can now commence.

"We are particularly impressed by the trust’s decision to make the new museum building energy-efficient as well as their close working relationship with Halton Borough Council who have demonstrated an unwavering support for the trust and its proposals.”

The full cost of the project is £4.4m and the trust is also supported by Halton Borough Council, the Wolfson Foundation, Arts Council England, Foyle Foundation, Granada Foundation and Radcliffe Trust.

but a further £190,000 still needs to be raised before the project can commence.

Building and conservation work is due to start at the museum in January with the redeveloped museum reopening in August 2016.