VIDEO: Last look at Chichester Cathedral's copper roof

As Chichester Cathedral disappears under scaffolding for the next four to five years, the Observer took a tour of the work unfolding.

Friday, 16th February 2018, 4:05 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 2:39 am

Today marked the launch of a fundraising effort towards urgent re-roofing work the cathedral, which will cost the Cathedral Restoration and Development Trust an estimated £5.8million.

The trust has already raised £3million through grants and large donations but events and smaller funding drives will be needed to replace the leaking copper roof with lead and stop the structure rotting.

Appeal chairman, Daniel Hodson, said: “It’s going to be an awful lot of hard work and shoe leather but we do believe people will rise to the occasion.”

Chichester Cathedral roof repairs. View from the base of the spire towards Market Cross, Feburary 16 2018. Photo: Anna Khoo

‘A piece of our history’

The cathedral’s copper roof was installed after the Second World War but had to be screwed down into the priceless medieval timber to stop it blowing off and the resulting holes leaked.

Beetles have now started to eat away at the damp timber structure, commissioned by Henry III, and the cost is repair is expected to escalate if the work is not done urgently.

Trust director Craig Sergeant said there was a contingency plan if the extent of the work was greater than anticipated but the building had ‘a pretty comprehensive’ structural survey.

Speaking to the Observer, appeal patron Dame Patricia Routlege said she was hoping to be ‘more than a name on a letterhead’ in her support for the project.

She said: “It’s a piece of our history, our heritage and if we lose sight of that, we disintegrate as a community.

“It’s at the heart of the city.”

Peregrine provision

Mr Sergeant said the scaffolding had to be put up before March, when the peregrine’s that famously nest at the cathedral return.

He said: “The important bit is getting the scaffolding up, once we have the scaffolding done and the temporary roof, we’re okay to work under it.

“The challenge is going to be if at any time in the four, five years, if we want to scratch scaffolding, we’re limited in March and August as it’s their breeding season.”

The peregrine’s nesting box has also been moved from the south-east tower to the north-east tower, based on expert advice, in the hopes the birds will adjust.

Mr Sergeant said the trust would do whatever it could to help its feathered friends, even if it meant added costs or occasional delays.

He said: “It’s an added pressure that you don’t usually deal with on big complex projects.

“They’re a mixed blessing, we love them to bits, but it could cause us a couple of issues along the way.”