As winter gales batter the south coast this week, Chichester Cathedral, in the medieval harbour city of West Sussex, appeals for donations to help pay for an urgently needed new roof. Wood boring beetles are destroying the wooden rafters and failing copper sheets cause concern that “fatigued copper panels could break free from their fixings.” (1)
This huge restoration project was started in 2018 and motivated by a five year inspection that produced the alarming conclusion that it was essential that the enormous cover of the famous church would need completely replacing.
“The roof appeal was launched by Dame Patricia Routledge.” (2) Religious leaders and the Cathedral’s management team are also appealing for help from businesses and the general public. This is in order to keep this fantastic spiritual centrepiece special and successful in terms of both form and function, for everyone to enjoy. Treasures at the Cathedral include a stunning Chagall window and a Roman mosaic floor.
After the second world war the original 13th century wooden beam roof was covered over with copper panels. The copper has a relatively short lifespan compared with some other construction materials that are used today but at a time of scare resources it was the best option available.
Now cracks can be found on the copper panels and the architects have designed a new lead roof which maintains the original look of the Cathedral and brings it up to standard to compare with other historic and very large and important ecclesiastical buildings in England. The wooden beams are being restored where possible using traditional techniques.
The project is underway in four phases in order to minimise interrupting the activities that happen in the church and get the best value from the cost of investing in the resources and materials required. The first phase location is undertaking the re-roofing of the Quire (the central area), followed by the South Transept, North Transept and the Nave. The covers of the first section have now been removed revealing the first part of the smart new roof.
“Chichester Cathedral has been a sacred place of worship for over nine centuries. Nowadays, the Cathedral welcomes over 350000 people each year and is also a visitor attraction, a venue for music and the arts, and all-round hub for the community.” (1)
“The Cathedral is entirely self-supporting relying on donations and fundraising activity.” (1)
The massive total cost of the roof improvements will be £5.8 million. Chichester Cathedral has received a £250000 grant from the First World War Cathedral Repair Fund to start the initial work but they are far from reaching the target figure and an urgent appeal has been launched.
To help ensure this beautiful and culturally important landmark is preserved for future generations to enjoy visit in person or donate online by visiting Chichester Cathedral Appeal
(1) Cathedral appeal publicity material, Chichester Cathedral, West Sussex 5 December 2019
(2) ‘Covers come off first section of Chichester Cathedral roof’ Adam Becket, Church Times 30 November 2018