Wedding venue among new owner's plans for historic priory
- Credit: Arnolds Keys/Rob Haslam
A 900-year-old landmark building has been bought by an Essex-based businessman who remains a champion of the town he was "lucky" to grow up in.
Rob Haslam, an architect and strategic business consultant, is the new owner of the 12th century former Priory Centre in Great Yarmouth - and the vicarage next door - after the collapse of the Community Trust at the end of 2019.
Mr Haslam said the purchase was part of his desire to give something back to the town where he spent his formative years.
Mr Haslam is planning to offer the Priory’s 2,500 sq ft Great Hall for wedding receptions and other community events, with office space in the building being made available for local start-up crafts and artisan businesses.
He is also looking to open a community café in the vicarage next door.
“I was so lucky growing up in Yarmouth,” he said. “I don’t think I realised until much later just how much I gained from my time in the town.
“There has been a lot of bad press about Yarmouth, and it’s so wrong.
"My aim is to make Great Yarmouth the most sought-after seaside resort in the UK, within five years.
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"And a part of that is getting these historic old buildings back into use for the town.”
Mr Haslam left the town to study architecture in London.
He has since built up a successful business based in Essex, which has worked with the BBC, Legoland Windsor, Tesco and TUI.
Guy Gowing, managing partner at Arnolds Keys, said: “We are delighted that this landmark historic building right in the centre of Great Yarmouth has been successfully sold, to someone who will ensure the building continues to play a useful role in the public life of the town,” said
Founded as a Benedictine priory in 1101, Great Yarmouth Priory was enlarged in 1260 and the hall was rebuilt in 1300.
It was home to 15 monks until it was dissolved in 1539, and played host to King Richard II in 1382.
It was significantly refurbished in 1978, and again at the turn of the millennium, and has been at the heart of the community for generations.