Campaigners get their message across to the Council
CONSIDERATION is being given to where the Prittlewell Saxon King's remains, currently being housed in the Museum of London, should be displayed when they are returned to Essex. The artefacts are considered to be on a par with the Sutton Hoo Burial Ship in Suffolk and are of international importance.
Saxon King in Priory Park (SKIPP) - a newly-formed campaign group - are firmly opposed to Southend Council's proposals to site the Saxon King finds in a seafront location and want to see them returned to their site of origin in the soon-to-be-refurbished Prittlewell Priory Museum in Priory Park, adjacent to where the burial chamber and its precious grave goods were found.
On Thursday, December 11, the group attended a full council meeting at the Civic Centre and raised questions regarding the Prittlewell Priory plans. The answer rovided by the Executive councillor for Culture, Derek Jarvis, provided little information regardin the restoration of the Priory but went into great detail about new toilet facilities.Priory Park is well-known for hosting large events and concerts throughout the year nad with its fishing lakes, bandstand and peaceful flower gardens, it is considered the ambience would be far more fitting than a seaside location.
Patsy Link, campaign organiser, said: "The plans for the new iconic museum and art gallery have been presented to the public. With huge costs and funding uncertain this issue, like so many others, could drag on for many years.
"Funding has, however, been agreed for the restoration of the Prittlewell Priory museum and consdruction of new out-buildings. English Heritage has so far pledged £142,000 and subject to plans being agreed, work could commence in early 2009 and complete in 2010.
There is widespread support for this initiative as some of us would like to see it in our lifetime!
"As Southend Council has a reputation for procrastination on any matters important to the public and with funding being uncertain it is all 'pie in the sky'.
We can only hope that this doesn't become another long, drawn-out process like the Priory Crescent road-widening scheme, which after many years is no closer to resolution. The group occupying and protecting the site of the burial are bracing themselves for a fourth horrendous winter.
"With a well-themed Saxon museum incorporating the latest finds plus many others from previous archaeological digs in the sacred Saxon burial groupd (in the late 19th and early 20th centuries) we would expect Priory Park and the museum to be a popular tourist attraction, bringing more revenue and recognition to our town.
"The location is ideal, being a short walk from the town and Southend Victoria station, a few minutes walk from Prittlewell station and regular bus services to the park gates.
"The group want to make it quite clear that they are not opposed to the council's plans to site a museum and art gallery in a seaside location but are adamant that the Saxon King's grave goods should be housed in the Prittlewell Priory museum - a stone's throw from where he lived, ruled, died and was buried."
The SKIPP can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning 07747 755205 or 07711 032380.