In the hustle and bustle of Bristol city centre, there is a little known Sanctuary: St James Priory. Founded in c 1129, it is Bristol’s oldest standing building and is of national historic importance.
Today, the Priory is at the heart of the St. James Priory Project (SJPP), a charity that supports people affected by addiction to drugs or alcohol. Recently, the site has been restored and as part of this programme, Imagemakers was commissioned to create new interpretation and signage.
Our challenge was to inspire a broad range of visitors with the site’s rich historical and architectural story and the unique service the SJPP provides for people with addictions. Design solutions conveyed a feeling comfort and welcome, enabled visitors to easily find their way around the site, and provided information pre and post visit. We designed a branding package and interpretive displays inside the church, café and exhibition space, and created an MP3 audio tour, a guide leaflet and fully updateable website.
The overarching theme was; ‘just as the building is going from dereliction and decay to newness of life, so too are those receiving treatment within it’s walls and this mirrors the hopes and prayers of its Benedictine founders 900 years ago’. It was essential that the scheme didn’t distract from the tranquil and beautiful historic setting and with this in mind we chose to reflect the artistry of the original Priory in the scheme through the use of contemporary photographs and historic illustrations to interpret the life of the building through time. We also designed bespoke timber exhibition units that complemented the stonework in the Priory with warm, subtle lighting.
‘It has taken us 18 years since first arriving at the Priory to reach this point! What was so nearly a ruin can now look forward to a future. Once more St James Priory is standing proudly in the heart of the city of Bristol. We hope that all who come here to visit will benefit in some way by having entered its ancient walls.’
Susan Jotcham, SJPP CEO