In 2018 we launched a major roofing campaign at Chichester to repair the Cathedral’s high roofs and to re-cover them in lead in lieu of the copper, installed in the 1940s.
As Chichester Cathedral receives no statutory funding relying wholly on donations and self-generated income from its day-to-day operations, the total that needed to be raised for the work was £5.8 million. The Chichester Cathedral Restoration & Development Trust created a starting fund of £1.7million, before launching an appeal which successfully secured the remainder thanks for the support from individuals and Charitable Trusts including The Wolfson Foundation who made a generous contribution to the final phase.
The first phase addressed the roof of the Quire, was undertaken by Messrs. DBR from November 2017 to November 2018. The second phase completed in October 2023 replaced the roof covering of the two transepts and the central lantern roof (below the Spire).
The pandemic introduced an extended pause between phases, with work re-starting in early 2022. At that time, tenders were invited from a range of experienced contractors and the contact was awarded to experienced conservation contractors Ellis and Co. of Shepton Mallet in Somerset, at Eastertide 2022.
Their work commenced in July 2022, with five months of continuous scaffold erection. The result of this effort was that, by the start of January 2023, the Nave roof was contained within a weather-tight envelope and work could begin in earnest.
The first activity was the removal of the copper coverings, and the lowest sections of 1940s roof boarding. This gave access to the wall plates and rafter feet, to be inspected in detail by the Cathedral Archaeologist, the consultant structural engineer, and the Surveyor of the Fabric.
The structural engineer, Stuart Tappin, and his team at Stand Consulting Engineers, worked tirelessly through the cold weather to review the condition of the roof carpentry on site, and to create detailed methods of repair for each and every condition encountered which were undertaken by Ellis’ craftsmen carpenters. On two trusses, the stone corbels supporting the truss booms had decayed to the point where replacement was necessary, and this work was carried out by their in-house stonemasonry team.
Considerable temporary works were necessary to take the load off the two trusses in question. This was the subject of a separate ‘temporary works design package’ undertaken by the main contractor, with over-sight and vetting by Stuart Tappin.
With the carpentry repairs carried out, the new lead roof covering was completed, and the temporary roof removed, and the scaffolding disassembled. By October 2023 the works’ compound was removed, new turf planted where the scaffolding had been, and the site tidied for the first time in five years.
Throughout, a Consultant Ecologist kept a close eye on the progress of the Cathedral’s Peregrines, ensuring that their breeding cycle would not be disrupted.
With the High Roofs and Lighting project now complete, Chichester Cathedral’s Restoration Planning Group are now developing projects to improve accessibility around the Cathedral and wider estate and to continue our work to reduce our environmental impact as we work towards our goal of being Carbon Neutral by 2030.
A service of Choral Evensong attended by the Bishop of Chichester the Right Reverend Dr Martin Warner and Patron of the roof restoration project Dame Patricia Routledge, took place on Sunday 26th November to give thanks for the successful completion of the Cathedral's roofing and lighting projects (including DBR Limited, Ellis & Co, Alltask, MSE Group Ltd, CBG Light Perceptions, and Lutron) as well as those who planned and funded them.