Overview of the programme
The overall Evesham Abbey programme comprises a series of discrete projects:
- Conservation Project (fabric repairs, initial archaeology, and engagement).
- Research Archaeology Project (optional).
- Cloister Garden Project.
- Nave Garden Project.
- Abbey Grounds Project.
The images below provide an overview of how the abbey site might develop. Please note these images do not include research archaeology (which will likely occupy large parts of the site) and do not include a garden on the abbey grounds:
The current focus is on the conservation project which will enable and inform the later projects. The programme has been structured as a series of separate projects for the following reasons:
- To better manage and mitigate any risks;
- To allow close management of key dependencies between pieces of work; ensuring the results of earlier projects are properly considered and then used to inform subsequent projects; and
- To enable the trust to establish a track record of delivering projects, in order to gain credibility with key stakeholders and funding groups.
Structure of the programme
The figure below shows the structure of the programme, projects, activities and tasks:
Dependencies between projects within the programme
There are dependencies between activities and between tasks which will be carefully managed by a dedicated project manager. There are also dependencies between projects, as illustrated in the figure below:
The sections below discuss in greater details the key dependencies between projects.
Research archaeology depends on results of the initial archaeology
The initial archaeology (in project 1) will help determine the potential for further archaeological work. Bearing in mind the national significance of the site, and the restricted scope of previous archaeology, there might be significant scope for extensive archaeological exploration and investigation. If there is, then this will lead onto the proposed second project (research archaeology). However, if such further work is not deemed appropriate or acceptable, then the programme will move directly to the development of the first public garden.
Design of cloister garden depends on results of initial/research archaeology
The size and scale of the proposed cloister garden is dependent on determining the size of the original cloister. There is no known plan, drawing or print in existence giving reliable information on the layout of the original cloisters. There are, however, a number of speculative (though informed) layouts. Much of the previous archaeology focussed on the grounds of the abbey church itself, not the wider abbey complex. A number of estimates have been proposed regarding the size of the cloisters:
- Edward John Rudge records the cloister passageway width as twelve feet and four inches.
- George May states the “cloister must have formed, when entire, an open quadrangle of about 130 feet diameter.”
- David Cox has assessed the cloisters as a circa 111 foot square: “…if the cloister was square and its diagonal equalled the intended length of the nave, we could say that the north cloister walk was c.111 ft (c.33.83 m) long (c.157 ft divided by the square root of two).”
In summary, then, the size and area of the cloister is unknown; though there are some highly-informed estimates available. The true dimensions will only be known following the initial archaeology. The creation of the Cloister Garden will be delayed if research archaeology is undertaken.
Design of nave garden depends on results of initial/research archaeology
The focus of previous archaeology was the site of the abbey nave, including the transepts and chancel. There is thus a significant amount of information – albeit from the 1830s – about this area. The site of the nave will be surveyed as part of initial archaeology and this will inform the location of planting and the overall layout. The creation of this garden will be delayed if research archaeology is undertaken.
Research archaeology might not be undertaken; perhaps from lack of funding, lack of approval, or from lack of archaeological potential. In this case, then the Nave Garden and the Cloister Garden projects might be merged to create a single series of works. These two projects have been kept discrete in order to provide flexibility within the programme for scheduling and staging.
Design of abbey grounds garden depends on results of initial/research archaeology
The focus of previous archaeology was the site of the abbey nave, including the transepts and chancel. The southern section of the site will be surveyed when the site becomes available. In the medium term this area is expected to be retained as allotments for existing allotment holders. Development of this area will be delayed if research archaeology is undertaken.
The programme has been structured to help ensure success in developing a new and richer understanding of this ancient, sacred site, and in creating a new heritage attraction informed by and inspired by that new understanding.
 ‘The excavation of the Site of Evesham Abbey… Notes and Queries’, p.57.