KEEPING CHICHESTER Cathedral preserved for future generations is key for Craig Sergeant.
The director of the Chichester Cathedral restoration and development trust is overseeing vital repair work to the cathedral in recent months, ensuring it remains in a good condition for the years ahead.
“In a sense it’s ugly, but it’s nice seeing some scaffolding because it’s a visual reminder that work is needed to the cathedal and that donors’ money is being well spent on essential repairs,” he said, ahead of a trip up the north-west tower, above the Sailors’ Chapel.
Last year, the trust benefited from a £140,000 grant from the government’s First World War Centenary Cathedral Repair Fund.
“We then got 12 months to spend that money and do the work,” said Craig.
“We have a long list of projects here at the cathedral.
“We realised the tower was a contender for the repairs fund. We’ve known it’s been needed for a while but sometimes these things get prioritised where we’re getting some funding.”
Cathedral staff were aware lead was eroding on top of the tower – meaning water was getting in.
“There was more evidence coming through of water damage,” said Craig.
“There had been patching done on the lead roof over the past five or ten years, but there’s only so much patching that you can do.”
The idea is to be doing the detail in such a way so we don’t need to do anything for another 100 yearsColin Kerr, Chichester Cathedral
The work is being carried out by restoration company DBR.
Site foreman Jon Sadler said it was ‘very satisfying’ to have reached the stage where everything was taking shape.
“In the early stages of the job you can’t quite see it ending up looking like that.
“To come to this stage now, it’s very satisfying.”
The work on the tower is soon to be complete, which will have cost around £280,000 in total.
According to Colin Kerr, the cathedral’s surveyor of the fabrics, the north-west tower collapsed in 1647 in a storm and was not rebuilt until the early 20th century.
“The lead they put down at the time in the 20th century was cracking up,” he said. “It did well – well over 100 years.”
He said the worst cracks were around the gutter.
A number of changes have been made to improve drainage from the tower and stop the gutters getting blocked up.
“The idea is to be doing the detail in such a way so we don’t need to do anything for another 100 years,” he said.