Biggest restoration in Chichester Cathedral’s history begins

A visualisation of what Chichester Cathedral might look like with a grey lead roof instead of the old green copper one. SUS-170830-123221001
A visualisation of what Chichester Cathedral might look like with a grey lead roof instead of the old green copper one. SUS-170830-123221001

The major restoration project to fix Chichester Cathedral’s leaky roof has begun.

On Monday, contractors made preparations for the re-covering and restoration of the roof in what is a £5.8m scheme – thought to be the largest restoration project in its 900-year history.

DBR Ltd will set up a contractor compound on the Cathedral Green before scaffolding is erected in late December/early January ahead of the first major phase starting in the New Year.

The high roofs the Quire, South Transept, Nave and North Transept re-covered and restored, with phase one expected to last 46 weeks.

Originally covered in lead, the roofs were re-covered after the Second World War using copper when the limitations of this material for high roofs was not fully known.

Concerns surfaced within a decade, and despite continual monitoring and repairs, the leaky roof has now reached the end of its working life.

“Beneath the failing copper roof, lies an exceptional example of medieval timber roofing,” a statement from Chichester Cathedral said.

“In fact, the cathedral’s medieval timber roof is of national importance.

“Much of the original 13th century medieval roof structure survives for the entire length of the cathedral, from east to west, providing a rare example of medieval history.

“Rainwater leaking into the roof, combined with well-meaning restoration efforts in the 1940s, and the installation of fire prevention measures in the 1990s which restricted the air flow, have all created an environment conducive to damp, death watch beetle and decay.”

As little as possible of the original medieval timbers will be removed before the historically authentic lead roof will be reinstated, giving ‘the best protection to Chichester Cathedral for generations to come’.

The cathedral said the project will rely on the success of fundraising before each phase can commence.

A fundraising appeal will begin in January.