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The Repair and Restoration of the Cathedral's Roof

Chichester Cathedral
Chichester Cathedral

Chichester Cathedral has been a sacred place of worship for over nine centuries.  Nowadays the Cathedral welcomes over 350,000 people each year and is also a busy tourist attraction, a venue for concerts and art exhibitions, lectures and talks, and an all-round hub for the community.

A professional five yearly inspection, known as the Quinquennial Inspection, carried out by the Surveyor of the Fabric, provides the Cathedral Chapter with intelligence on the condition of the building and informs the strategy for maintenance and restoration.  The Quinquennial Inspection in 2012 identified the Cathedral's high roofs comprising the Quire, Nave, North Transept and South Transept roofs as a priority project.

Evidence of water damage to Medieval roof timbers
Evidence of water damage to medieval roof timbers

Despite ongoing repairs, the copper roof covering is failing and rainwater is able to penetrate the roof vault, damaging the medieval timber roof structure, masonry and ceiling plasterwork.  Concern that the fatigued copper panels could break free from their fixings adds to the urgency.  Restricted air-flow is creating an environment for increased decay and wood boring beetle activity.

The Cathedral roof is no ordinary roof - it is of national importance and extremely rare.  Beneath the current copper roof covering the Cathedral houses an exceptional example of original medieval timber roofing.  In fact, much of the original 13th century medieval roof structure survives for the entire length of the Cathedral from east to west.

Aerial view of the Cathedral
Aerial view of the Cathedral

The scale of this project is enormous and unprecedented for the Cathedral, which receives no statutory funding, and relies wholly on donations and self-generated income for its restoration needs.  This major undertaking has been estimated at a cost of around £6 million and will take five years to complete.  2018 will bring one of the biggest and perhaps most important restoration projects ever undertaken at Chichester Cathedral. 

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