Residents and visitors alike have stood and stared in admiration at the magnificence of Chichester Cathedral — in one form or another — for around 900 years or so. Overall, the wondrous piece of architecture has stood the test of time — yes, there was the devastating collapse of the monument’s spire in 1861 — and it is without surprise that we learned last year that the cathedral’s roof was being replaced.
In short, the roof was leaking and restoration was urgently required. At present, we are currently past the first stage of that restoration — which will cost in the region of around £6million once the dust has settled. The completion of the vital work is said to be taking five years. It is, after all, a huge task — as anyone who has gazed up at the roof recently to see the sheer scale of the construction will testify.
Progress has been good so far and the general consensus is that everything is under control in terms of meeting the objectives for timing. The project to replace the roof started in January of last year and visitors would have noticed a giant structure of scaffolding erected in and around the cathedral grounds as work got under way to replace the copper — with lead — on the eastern side.
And so, the second phase of the project to restore the roof is under way with the funding – of around £4million already in place — but fund-raising continues at pace as it is looked to achieve the target of around £6million.
Ultimately, the entirely restored roof will give the cathedral the look it had before the original lead covering was replaced with copper in the 1940’s following the Second World War with a shortage of lead being the reason behind the change.
That and the fact that the roof will no longer leak — crucial if the glorious structure is to be preserved for future generations — is a good thing, says Mark Richards, a keen observer of all things at the cathedral.
He said: “Chichester Cathedral is unique and of that there can be no doubt. Preservation is very important for obvious reasons and so it is heartening to see that the work is fully under way and seemingly on schedule to be completed in the time frame first considered.
“People and business have been incredibly generous in their fund-raising efforts and these efforts will continue. It will mean that the roof will have a more authentic look about it and of course, arguably more important as well, is the fact that everything below it will be protected by the new, improved roofs. Leaks can never be a good thing in any building but this is especially the case in one so important to the national heritage.”