Chichester Cathedral is celebrating double recognition at the 21st annual Sussex Heritage Awards run by the Sussex Heritage Trust. At the Awards Ceremony held on Wednesday 3rd July, traditional lead worker John Hill, along with his sons Lewis and Dale, were winners in the prestigious Building Crafts Award section for the re-covering of the Quire roof at the Cathedral, the first phase in the overall sequence of work. They are replacing the failing copper roof, installed after World War 2, with traditional thick sandcast lead, examples of which have lasted over 100 years. It requires great skill and experience to lay – and for this project, at great height!
John Hill originally began working as a roofer almost 30 years ago, and after an opportunity arose to learn lead working skills, he has never looked back. Sons Dale and Lewis followed into the family business straight from school. Together they have worked on other famous landmarks such as Canterbury Cathedral, the Tower of London, St Pancras Station and Kensington Palace. John comments, “It is a privilege to work here at the Cathedral and be recognised for our hard work.” Lewis and Dale add, “It is a chance to be a part of the history of the Cathedral, our work will be here for years to come – it is a real honour.”
In addition, the Cathedral received Highly Commended status in the Ecclesiastical Award category for the Quire roof restoration. This recognition additionally celebrates the vital work of carpenters John Maddison and Constantin Nistok who are working to repair any damaged timbers that support the new lead roof covering.
Commenting on both awards, the judges stated “The project involved the repair of roof timbers and replacement of defective sheet copper roof which was laid post WW2 as a cost saving, with cast sheet lead weathering as was originally laid. The quality of the craftsmanship in laying the sheet lead was outstanding and deserves the Craftsman's Award.”
The Dean of Chichester Cathedral, the Very Reverend Stephen Waine said, “All at the Cathedral are delighted that John, Dale and Lewis have received such recognition from the Sussex Heritage Trust. Both awards deservedly celebrate the skills and dedication of the individual craftsmen involved in this project, and also the hard work of every member of the Restoration Team – contractors, staff and volunteers. We also thank all those individuals and organisations who have donated towards the Project, who have made it possible to protect this sacred and historic place for generations to come.”
The Cathedral receives no automatic statutory funding and relies wholly on donations and self-generated income for its restoration needs. The Cathedral Trust has to date raised £4 million towards the estimated £5.8 million needed for this major Roof Restoration Project.
The Sussex Heritage Trust is a Registered Charity established in 1977 to preserve, improve and encourage the appreciation of the architectural and natural heritage of Sussex. The Awards Scheme began in 1998 and has brought to light many fine examples of conservation, preservation and rejuvenation projects across the county.
Pictured (L to R): Jeremy Attwood of main contractors DBR Ltd; the Very Reverend Stephen WaineDean of Chichester Stephen Waine; John Hill with sons Lewis and Dale.