Canterbury Cathedral is to begin a £24.7 million scheme to carry out vital restoration work and to open up the Cathedral and its historic collections to as many people as possible.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded the Cathedral a total grant of £13.8 million – to which is being added £10.9 million raised by the Cathedral’s fundraising charity, the Canterbury Cathedral Trust, through private and charitable sources in the UK and the USA.
Securing the funding means that over the next five years the leaking roof above the Cathedral Nave (pictured right) will be replaced and, subject to planning permission, visitors to the Cathedral will be greeted at a new Welcome Centre, opening onto the city’s Buttermarket.
Improved landscaping at the west front of the Cathedral will make access easier for visitors and restoration work is to be carried out to the main entrance to the Cathedral from the city – the Christ Church Gate.
More displays from the Cathedral’s historic collections are to be created and a new handheld, multimedia guide to help visitors learn more about the Cathedral’s rich history is to be developed.
An extensive programme of community activities is being scheduled which aims not only to improve the experience of existing visitors and attract new ones but also to reach out to new audiences by taking the Cathedral’s heritage out into the community and by developing online access to the collections.
A new Pilgrim’s Pass is also to be introduced giving free access to the Cathedral for all those who live, work and study in Canterbury, and all who worship in East Kent.
“This is without doubt a very exciting time for the Cathedral. One million people come to this Cathedral every year as worshippers, visitors and pilgrims and we want further to enhance the experience for them as well as to reach out to those communities with whom we would like to to share the richness of the heritage we have in this magnificent place. We are naturally delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has supported our application for a grant and we are enormously grateful to those very generous individuals from around the world who have placed their faith and trust in us so that together we may continue to cherish this holy place for future generations.”
The Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, the Very Revd Dr Robert Willis
The Cathedral has been developing its application for HLF funding over the last two years since it was given what it is known as round one approval to develop its outline proposals.
Stuart McLeod, Head of HLF South East, said: “A landmark of worship, architecture and social history, Canterbury Cathedral is an extraordinary example of our collective heritage and we’re delighted that money raised by National Lottery players will enable it to take this major step on its journey.
“Alongside vital repairs and the creation of a Welcome Centre, this investment will enable free access for those who live, work and study in Canterbury, reach out to new visitors and ensure the Cathedral’s bright future as an integral part of the community.”