Built in the 15th century, the Cloister comprises three covered passageways on the south side of the Cathedral. The eastern and western arms provide access to the Cathedral at the east end of the south quire aisle and the east end of the nave respectively, with the southern arm linking the two. This creates an enclosure (Cloister Garth) around the south transept known as the 'Paradise' garden.
With five public entrances, the Cloister is a busy thoroughfare used daily by clergy, lay staff, worshippers and visitors for over 600 years. The Cathedral café, shop and offices are all accessed via the southern arm.
In the 1960s, the potential of the Eastern Arm (the first arm of the Cloister to be built) to provide additional practical space to support the life of the Cathedral was recognised. By adding a glazed wall and doorway half way along the arm, a more useable practical space was created. This, however, proved of limited benefit, as the area remained dimly lit, unheated and draughty thereby restricting its potential, and severely limiting its use.
Around 2007 the restoration needs of the Cloister were becoming clear and it was recognised that this arm was in most urgent need. The external masonry and window traceries and cills were in poor condition, and the roof covering was in constant need of maintenance and repair. Coming at a time when the Cathedral were seeking develop their educational offering the opportunity was taken to both restore and refurbish this area to create a fit for purpose space that could be used in comfort all year round.
Completing in 2010, the project comprised:
- Roof covering stripped, re-laid, enclosed and insulated
- External wall consolidation and partial rebuild of buttresses
- Renewal of rainwater goods and overhaul of drainage
- Significant repair and restoration of external window traceries and cills
- Re-pointing and cleaning of internal walls and window traceries
- Installation of heating and a new lighting scheme
The restoration and refurbishment project not only secured the future of this 15th century building but was instrumental in allowing the Cathedral's educational offering take a significant step forward, and continues to play a fundamental role in Cathedral life, in particular the Learning & Engagement programme, to this day.
This Trust funded restoration and refurbishment project was enabled through the generosity of the F G Woodger Trust.