These cathedrals have their own in-house teams of crafts people working on a wide range of restoration projects which provide challenging and varied learning and teaching environments for our students.
Please get in touch if you would like to know more about what we do and how you could get involved.
“Canterbury. Established as a place of worship by St Augustine in 597 AD, Canterbury Cathedral is the oldest Cathedral in the country. With St Augustine’s Abbey and St Martin’s Church, it is part of Canterbury’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. Since the murder of Thomas Beckett inside the Cathedral on 29th January 1170 it has been a place of pilgrimage for millions of visitors. The medieval monks established Canterbury as one of the most respected seats of learning in medieval England and the foundation has often been at the centre of the country’s religious and political life.
The Cathedral has a team of highly skilled and knowledgeable craftspeople, including stonemasons, glaziers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, plasterers and bricklayers, who are charged with the conservation and maintenance of the Cathedral building and the many historic properties and monastic ruins in its Precincts and Estate. Work currently in-hand includes conservation repair to the West Front of the Cathedral and the conservation repair and re-presentation of Christ Church Gate, the main entrance to the Precincts. Other projects are focused on improving sustainability and energy consumption to achieve net zero compliance. The Cathedral was the first to install a comprehensive environmental monitoring system and can draw on 10 years of data when planning to improve collections management and care and energy usage.
The Cathedral is committed to education across a range of professions and regularly offers apprenticeships and other training opportunities for people wishing to gain the skill and expertise needed to continue to care for one of the nation’s architectural and cultural treasures.” Joel Hopkinson, Head of Estates and Fabric.
“Chester’s Works Department is the primary centre of heritage skills training in the north west of England. The department – made up of stonemasons, a conservator, a collections manager, and other heritage skills professionals – are the first of their kind in Chester for over 100 years and are tasked with conserving and advising on the use of the impressive 900-year-old red sandstone building. Current projects the department are working on includes the first routine maintenance work of the exterior of the building for over 50 years and conservation of the historic floor of the medieval Chapter House. The team also engage local and national audiences with regular outreach opportunities, including their popular Heritage Discovery Day. You can follow the Works Department of Chester Cathedral on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.” Ted Comer, Clerk of Works.
“At Durham our current work focus is the repair and conservation works to the Belfry Tower, which mainly consist of stonework repair to the upper parapets and bell chamber levels. Other works to be completed include repairs to roof-coverings and rainwater systems, and the renewal of roof-access decking so that visitors can continue to enjoy the magnificent views of Durham offered from the Tower”.
“Exeter has just started on an ambitious series of projects to reorder and improve the visitor experience for those coming to the Cathedral now and hopefully many decades ahead. With the support of the NHLF grant we received we are beginning the first stages of this with the first new building on the main Cathedral body for centuries, built off the foundations of the original Cloisters. A new stone gallery will mimic the original East Cloister walk and link the Cathedral, Chapter House and Pearson Buildings with covered access. We will also be providing new toilets and a shop along with the ‘treasures’ exhibition, in this first phase where previously inaccessible items such as the Exeter Book will be displayed.
A new Quire floor is being designed and installed in 2022/3 where we are looking to create a detailed design using rare Devon ‘marbles’ (polishable hard limestones). The East End of the Cathedral will then close whilst new heating, sound, light, power and data infrastructure is installed. At the same time our masons are working on the next phase of the Quire Clerestory window bays, again plenty of stone conservation and replacement including carved elements of pinnacles. Our team are also working on the south elevation of the Chapter House, enabling work for a new toilet block below. We then have to do the same on the South Quire aisle elevation immediately after. We have a programme in place for works taking us through to 2030 and beyond at present but we all know there is more to do still after this. We have a small quarry which we have reopened and operate to provide us with the necessary “Salcombe” stone supply for all of our ongoing works on the Cathedral.
Our team also have an annual programme of work on conservation of monuments inside the Cathedral over the winter months. We are always investing and developing the skills of our team and the CWF plays a big part in this. So in short we are very, very busy!” Chris Sampson, Clerk of Works.
“At Gloucester, we have just completed an extensive programme of repairs to the East and North of the Cathedral, including the first phase of the North Nave programme. This also included extensive repairs to the South and East of the Lady Chapel, replacing decayed free standing parapet and pinnacles stones as well as a good number of string courses, cornices and buttress heads. This gave us the opportunity to reinstate six new gargoyles and a Green Man corbel head on the North Ambulatory which had either decayed to a sorry lump or had been removed in the 19th century.
We are now working on the second of the three phases to cover the entire length of North Nave and North Aisle from the North Transept to the West End.
We have also started a Conservation Trial on the East wing of the Cloister, beginning the long campaign of conservation repairs to the four wings of the Cloister with its world famous fan vaulting.
We have further developed our training activities and now have three apprentices, two of them being part of the cohort in the ongoing current CWF Foundation Degree course, and one working on her NVQ3 to prepare for the next Foundation Degree course starting in September 2023. We do intend to recruit another two apprentices in the spring of 2023.” Pascal Mychalysin, Master Mason. (Photo credit: Kevin Lewis)
“Lincoln has recently successfully finished a £16million NLHF project which has seen the addition of an exhibition space to house the many historical artefacts that have been removed from the Cathedral over the centuries as well as a new refectory, retail and education centre. The works department comprising of Stonemasons, Conservators, Carpenters, Glaziers and Facilities teams continue to work on the Cathedral and close properties. The main projects currently are the conservation and restoration of the 12th Century Chapter House which includes the replacement of 150+ stones, a new, bespoke heating system being installed within the 14th Century Choir stalls and the repair of the Wren Library roof beams along with the ongoing conservation of Medieval Lancet windows on the South of the Cathedral. The Close properties continue to be worked on in sequence as part of an ongoing major programme to bring the 66+ buildings the Cathedral is responsible for to a good standard, both for private rental and Cathedral use.” Michael Graves, Head Mason.
“Lichfield Cathedral, a remarkable example of medieval architecture and a symbol of spiritual heritage, has recently gained distinction as the newest member of the CWF. This venerable cathedral, situated in the heart of Lichfield, stands as a testament to centuries of craftsmanship and devotion. In an ambitious endeavour over the next five years, the cathedral is poised to establish a pioneering new Works Department, an initiative that will encompass the skilled crafts of stonemasons and joiners. This visionary step forward aims to meticulously conserve and restore both the cathedral’s intricate fabric and the historic estate properties surrounding it. By weaving traditional expertise with modern techniques, Lichfield Cathedral is not only preserving its own rich legacy but also contributing to the global endeavour of safeguarding world heritage for generations to come.” Kayley Harrison, Clerk of Works
“Salisbury is nearing the end of a 30-year programme of works which commenced in 1985. The Spire and tower were complete by 1995 but it was then found that all the stone work around the building needed urgent attention as did the glazing, timber and lead work, so the Major Repair Programme (MRP) was formulated, dividing the Cathedral up in to 21 manageable sections or Major Repair Areas (MRAs).
West front works took place to the 80 statues between 1995 and 2000 with the top cross being fixed as part of the millennium celebrations. Work has continued clockwise around the building and the area currently being worked on is the East end of the Cathedral, the oldest part and where building work began in April 1220.” Gary Price, Clerk of the Works.
“At Westminster Abbey we have long been committed to sustaining the highest standards of craftmanship in maintaining and developing our unique buildings. By joining the Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship we are linking to a number of the country’s most significant Cathedrals, who share our belief in the importance of developing and maintaining these essential skills. We look forward to a fruitful partnership and to playing our part in nurturing crafts which are part of our shared inheritance and key to our future.” Paul Baumann CBE, Chapter Clerk and Receiver General.
“Winchester’s recent projects have included the repair and conservation of the presbytery roof, high vaults and roof bosses and 15th-century stained glass plus the redevelopment of the Triforium Gallery as a new exhibition space. We have also carried out works to the low level windows of the North Transept, where Holywell Glass conserved some beautiful 14th Century stained glass panels, and successfully completed a conservation and structural project on The Dean Garnier Gate, a 13th century doorway to the space originally used as the medieval chapter house and dormitories for the clergy.” Jonathan Ryan, Head of Estates.
Worcester “The impact of Storm Arwen on the morning of November 28th 2021 led to severe damage to a section of our main tower on the North/East corner. One of our ‘side positioned’ twinset decorated pinnacles – 200ft from ground level, along with nine courses of moulded shaft stones underneath (2000kg of stone), was overpowered by 90+ mph winds and the stonework collapsed, smashing through the north Aisle roof, which landed on medieval vaulting, coursing serious damage. In the North Aisle roof space, many main roof timbers, plumbing/heating systems, electrics, organ box sounding chamber, all perished in the stone fall.
Many stone components on the exterior stonework below were also damaged. Our cathedral heritage & maintenance teams and many contractors have since been repairing the damaged areas. Late in November, almost 12 months to the day, the Quire organ was finally back in working order …and played for the first time …a good milestone!. Currently, a new pinnacle is being carved by the team and is expected to be fixed during the summer of 2023.
Future works, further into 2023, will be stone repairs and conservation to an exterior wall to the West Cloister and conservation repairs to our river side boundary wall.” Darren Steele, Works Manager/Master Mason.
“York Minster’s Works Department is responsible for the care of York Minster, its 6 hectare Precinct and 53 Precinct Properties. The Department is made up from 32 members of staff including stonemasons, joiners, plumbers, electricians, scaffolders, gardeners, heritage builders and management. Our major restoration works include a 10 year project to repair and conserve the south elevation of the 14th – 15th century Quire, working in partnership with York Glaziers Trust.
We are also implementing our recently adopted masterplan which will deliver major changes in the Precinct including the restoration of the 15th century St William’s College as Chapter’s new offices, creation of three new parks, a refectory and new facilities for the Work’s Department which will become a training centre and hub for knowledge sharing. We are also making significant changes to our buildings as we begin our journey to net zero and many of our projects will bring in an element of onsite renewable energy, air and ground source heat pumps and retro fitting of existing buildings to increase insulation.” Alexander McCallion FRICS, Director of Works & Precinct