NORTON Priory Museum and Gardens has been given a top tourism award.
The venue was presented with the gold accolade in the Best Small Visitor Attraction of the Year category at the North West Tourist Board's Chairman's Awards 2003.
The presentation took place at the City of Manchester Stadium last week.
Norton Priory started as a small attraction following the archaeological excavation of an Augustan priory.
It has grown to a multi-faceted 38-acre site which encompasses a Grade I listed monastic undercroft, priory ruins, woodland gardens, a sculpture trail and 2.5 acres of Georgian walled garden.
Judges took into account the quality of Norton Priory's facilities and its ability to 'leave the visitor with a wonderful memory of a great day out'.
This year's event also marked the retirement of Anthony Goldstone, chairman of the North West Tourist Board. He retires after 20 years in charge, the longest-serving chairman of any tourist board in the country.
He said: 'During the last year Norton Priory Museum and Gardens played host to 29,192 visitors from many different groups, from academics and family groups to those with special needs.
'It just shows that an attraction can really set itself apart when it uses limited resources creatively and builds enthusiasm among its staff.
'I'm proud to step down as chairman at a time when the quality of our regional tourism product is second to none.
'Thanks to the XVII Commonwealth Games, and now Liverpool's success as European Capital of Culture 2008, we will continue to reap the benefits of increased tourism for many years.'