A £700,000 restoration programme of the Priest’s House Museum in Wimborne - part of a wider £1.6 million National Lottery supported Revival Project – has finally been completed.

Representatives of the museum team received the keys to the historic Grade II* listed building from Rob Hooker of Greendale Construction upon completion of the restoration.

Major changes include a new museum entrance, and a new combined visitor reception, shop and Information Centre.

Work is now underway with the next phase of the museum’s refurbishment.

Museum Director James Webb said: “This has been a journey of discovery and surprises. We knew about the existence of some historic fabric from old photographs and documentation but had no idea of the extent of timber-frame walls and features that would finally be revealed.

“The building has shown itself to be alive with history – all of which is now uncovered and preserved for future generations.

“We are so excited to begin sharing some of this work as we welcome our first visitors back to the Information Centre in July, and we look forward to our grand reopening later in the year.”

A key objective of the Revival Project was to preserve and conserve the fabric of the building, parts of which date back to the late Elizabethan period.

The extensive project, which began a year ago, saw Dorset-based Greendale Construction tasked with works ranging from minor refurbishment in some areas, to a full strip-out and redecoration in others.

Works over the past 12 months have transformed the facilities, exhibition spaces and access, with new staircases, refurbished or new doors and partition glazed screens installed, and services upgraded.

A new platform lift and ramps will allow access to the upper galleries for all for the first time.

Whilst the museum will not re-open until later in the year, visitors will be able to see some of the incredible transformation for themselves when the Information Centre opens on July 20.

The £1.6m revival project is being made possible by a £982,200 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, along with partnership funding from Trusts, Foundations, local councils and businesses including Garfield Weston Foundation; The Talbot Village Trust; The Foyle Foundation.