St Albans Cathedral Awarded Funding for Vital Restoration of its Great West Front

Thu, 10 July 2014

It was announced today that St Albans Cathedral has been awarded a grant of £438,000 from the First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund. This grant will fully fund urgent work to the great west front, the Cathedral’s main ceremonial entrance, to repair and protect the medieval stonework of the west porches, the surrounding 19th century masonry, the grand oak doors and the stunning first world war memorial window.

This project will stop ongoing damage to the Cathedral’s ancient stonework, reverse its effects and put in preventative measures to protect its west front into the future.

The Cathedral is in an exciting period of development. With a recently awarded grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), a major new project ‘Alban, Britain’s First Saint: Telling the Whole Story’ will aim to raise the national profile of St Alban and the Cathedral by welcoming and informing more visitors more effectively. This development lends added focus and urgency to the work that is needed on the west front, as we prepare to welcome greater numbers of visitors through our great doors.

The Very Revd Dr Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans Cathedral, said: “This grant will not only halt critical damage to our ancient stonework and protect it for the future, but will also renew our great entrance and the surrounds of our remarkable memorial window, so that is it provides a fitting welcome for our services commemorating the centenary of the First World War over the coming years.” 

St Albans Cathedral

  • St Albans Cathedral stands on the site of St Alban's execution and burial.
  • It is the oldest place of continuous Christian worship in the country.
  • The building itself is a blend of architectural styles spanning over a thousand years and contains recycled Roman bricks from Verulamium.
  • Of special interest are the 13th century wall paintings, a rare watching loft, the shrines of St Alban and Amphibalus, and the longest nave in England.
  • Among the regular services at the Cathedral is the weekly celebration of Mass by the Cathedral's Roman Catholic ecumenical chaplain. The ecumenical chaplaincy also includes Free Church, German Lutheran and Orthodox services.
  • St Albans Cathedral welcomes 160,000 visitors a year.
  • Over 14,000 children visit the Cathedral’s award-winning Education Centre each year.

The West Front

  • The west front and porches act as the main entrance to and exit from the Cathedral on ceremonial occasions and services.
  • The interior of the porches are nationally significant as one of the most elaborate and finest pieces of Early English design in the country.
  • The west window was designed by Ninian Comper as a memorial to those who suffered in WWI.
  • Controversy surrounding the reconstruction of the west front by Lord Grimthorpe in the late 19th century led directly to the formation of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) and the earliest Ancient Monuments legislation.
  • The central porch is notorious for the way in which Lord Grimthorpe, who funded the Victorian restoration, is portrayed as one of the four evangelists.
  • The  fabric of the Cathedral’s great entrance has reached critical condition due to prolonged gradual water ingress. Despite recent repairs to the roof, the masonry is so weakened that water continues to penetrate and damage the inside of the porches.

The First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund

  • This is a £20m fund over 2 years which has been specifically set up to provide funding for repairs to cathedrals, as money from the existing Heritage   Lottery Fund Repair Grants for Places of Worship scheme excludes provision for cathedrals. All other listed faith and other Christian denomination places of worship are eligible to apply for grants from the existing HLF scheme.
  • The Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England is the national body overseeing the Church's controls over certain types of work to its cathedrals in England.

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