Medway laps at priory walls

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More than half a million pounds is needed to turn back the River Medway River in Kent and save the 13th-century Aylesford Priory - one of county's oldest buildings, home to a community of working Carmelite friars and once a hospice for pilgrims on their way to the shrine of St Thomas a Becket in Canterbury.

Rising river and tide levels risk a unique part of Britain's heritage being swept away. The outside walls of the priory's Pilgrim's Hall form part of the flood defences. But they are bulging outwards and are in urgent need of repair. The Environment Agency has drawn up plans for a pounds 573,000 scheme to strengthen the walls and raise embankments. It is hoped lottery money will be provided for other vital restoration work.