Canterbury Cathedral Appeal

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Launch and background[edit]

The Save Canterbury Cathedral Appeal was launched in October 2006 to protect and enhance Canterbury Cathedral's future as a centre of worship, heritage and culture.

Every five years, a major structural review is carried out at the Cathedral. The last so-called Quinquennial Report revealed that a combination of centuries of weathering, pollution and constant use had taken its toll on the ancient building and some serious problems were in need of urgent action.

The Appeal - the third of its kind, following major fundraising drives at Canterbury in the 1950s and 1970s - was launched to fund these projects. Fundraising for the Appeal will take place over a number of years both nationally and internationally and will look to draw on the generosity of supporters all over the world who acknowledge the Cathedral's role as the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion and as a World Heritage Site.


Much of the stonework at Canterbury Cathedral is damaged and crumbling, the roofs are leaking and much of the stained glass is badly corroded. It is thought if action is not taken now, the rate of decay and damage being inflicted on the building will increase dramatically with potentially disastrous results.

Without action, the current damage caused by continuous erosion is expected to get worse and eventually lead to closures of large sections of the Cathedral in order to guarantee the safety of the million plus worshippers, pilgrims and tourists who visit the Cathedral every year. The closure of parts of the Cathedral would be seen as a significant loss of part of Britain's Architectural Heritage, but also a huge limitation on the activities and services currently provided by the Cathedral.

The core part of the fundraising programme is focused on the Cathedral's fabric. The major conservation-restoration projects already identified will cost £30 million. Fabric conservation is, undoubtedly, the most urgent element of the campaign. An integrated conservation programme that addresses the priority areas has been drawn up by the Cathedral's Surveyor to the Fabric, John Burton.

The single biggest challenge is the roof. Not surprisingly for a building of this size, the Cathedral is covered by a huge expanse of lead and whilst the majority of the wooden framework remains sound, much of the lead itself needs replacing. This is a mammoth task, particularly over the Nave, Transepts and Quire of the Cathedral. In addition, a large amount of concrete encasing the bottom of the roof beams needs to be removed and replaced with traditional wooden footers. This is a highly complex structural challenge and an extremely expensive but vital undertaking.

Conservation of the external masonry, particularly on the northern side of the building, is equally as important as the roof. The Cathedral is in part built of Caen stone which, although very resistant to time and the elements, will not last for ever. Detailed archaeological studies are undertaken to identify exactly which stones need to be replaced or repaired. In addition, specialist cleaning techniques are used to remove accumulated chemical deposits which, as well as being extremely unsightly, are very damaging to the building.

As the elements attack the outside of the building, over the years millions of worshippers, pilgrims and visitors have taken their toll on the interior. Decoration of the vaults of the Trinity Chapel, major improvements to the Treasury building which contains amongst other things the choir practice rooms, conservation work in several other chapels and a raft of other minor works will transform the interior of the Cathedral for the benefit of all its users.

The earliest coloured glass windows in the Cathedral date from the late 12th Century, whilst others are as new as the four Ervin Bossányi windows in the South East Transept (1957). Many have already been conserved and protected by the highly skilled team of stained glass conservators, led by the international expert Leonie Seliger. However much remains to be done, not least of which includes the late 12th Century Oculus window in the South-East Transept.


As well as restoring much of the historic beauty of the Cathedral, the Appeal aims to fund a number of enhancements to the Cathedral's visitor facilities and investment to build on Canterbury's significant musical tradition. There are plans to refurbish the Cathedral pipe organ and renovations to the Choir House have already been completed, providing better facilities for choristers. State of the art technological improvements to the Cathedral's audio-visual and lighting systems are also planned which will significantly benefit visitors including the disabled, visually impaired and hard of hearing.

The Appeal's major projects in detail[edit]

£2.6m, Nave and Aisle Roofs

Essential repairs to stonework around the clerestory windows and tracery. Re-leading of nave roof and repairs to flying buttresses.

£6m, Bell Harry Tower

Critical works to the Cathedral’s most imposing structure – preparatory photogrammetric studies followed by major work on the carvings, pinnacles and stone facings, many of which are over 500 years old.

£1m, North West Transept

An area of the Cathedral that is particularly difficult to access and has suffered extreme weather damage. Fundamental structural work within the roof to replace timber supporting battens and concrete wall casings. Removal of existing lead, re-casting and re-leading of roof.

£1m, South East Transept

Around £0.5 million is still needed to complete the stonemasonry work on the South East Transept. Repairs to timber battens and re-leading of the Norman Tower roof. This structure dates from the Romanesque period and is one of the oldest parts of the Cathedral having survived all major fires. Work is still required to St John's and St Gregory's chapel roofs, including replacing water chutes.

£5m, Stained glass

For conservation of stained glass and surrounding stonework throughout the Cathedral including around £500k for the South Oculus window – one of the world’s finest surviving examples of a late 12th Century round window.

£2m Library and Archives

Funding is needed to ensure that the Cathedral’s precious collection of books and manuscripts is preserved for future generations. Specialist conservation treatment is required on paper, parchment, book-bindings and photographs. Funds are also required to expand and enhance access, using information technology to make books and documents available to a worldwide audience. Improvements are needed to the fabric of the library buildings including improvements to the insulation to control temperatures inside the building, replacement of worn-out copper roofs and conservation of 17th Century stone and brickwork.

£2 million The Corona Chapel

Work on the North side of the Corona Chapel including conservation to eight stone pinnacles and the staircase tower.

£0.5m General Internal repairs

£2.9m Other works to the Cathedral’s fabric

Work on the South West Tower, North West Tower, The Trinity Chapel, The South Triforium, The Chapter House and The Cathedral Undercroft.

£7 m, Music

Endowment for Choristers £3 m Organ Refurbishment £4 m

Christ Church Gate £2m

Full conservation of the 15th Century gateway to the Precincts including repair of the 17th Century wooden gates which replace those burnt in the Civil War.

South Precincts Development £15 m

To provide a much improved welcome to the one million annual visitors to Canterbury. Funds are also needed to build a new visitor reception. Facilities will include site interpretation and improved accessibility.

The Appeal also aims to develop the outmoded workshop area and Stained Glass Studio to ensure the survival of Canterbury as a centre of excellence for vital craft skills and to promote a sustainable maintenance base for work on the Cathedral which can be viewed by the public. It also aims to fund enhanced training facilities.

How the Cathedral is funded[edit]

Canterbury Cathedral receives no government or State funding and only occasional grants from English Heritage. It is not funded by the Church of England. The Church Commissioners pay the salary of the Dean and two of the residentiary Canons only. The Cathedral is therefore largely self-funded.

Around £14,500 is spent each day on the cathedral with £9,000 of this being spent on daily running costs. In order to meet these huge costs the cathedral has to rely on income from a number of commercial operations such as property rental, the Cathedral Shop, Hotel and Conference Centre and from entry charges to the Cathedral. This income is only just sufficient, however, to cover the daily costs of running the Cathedral and could not start to support the money needed for the conservation and development projects that are vital[according to whom?] for the survival of this magnificent building.

Keeping a Cathedral of Canterbury's size working and open to the public is a big operation requiring the skills of many different people. And of course there are the costs of lighting, heating and general maintenance. The Cathedral employs a full maintenance team of stonemasons and builders, electricians, carpenters and plumbers to keep the building open throughout the year.

External links[edit]