Appeal to save the Lichfield Cathedral Chapter House

Tuesday January 26 2016

On Tuesday 2 February, Lichfield Cathedral will launch a major new £2 million appeal to save the Chapter House.

The Cathedral urgently needs to raise funds to reverse serious water penetration and stone erosion on the Chapter House. The structure is built from a number of different types of red sandstone. In recent years the top layer of stone-work has begun to weaken and the roof has also started to show signs of significant distress. Both factors now pose a substantial risk to the interior, in particular to the library collection.

The library has been housed in the upper room of the Chapter House since 1758 and has remained here intact for over 250 years. The library houses a magnificent collection of treasures which includes fifteenth-century hand copied manuscripts of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, one of the three surviving original copies of Christopher Saxton’s maps of Tudor England, and a fascinating manuscript of illustrations issued by and signed by Charles I.  It would be a great loss if the water damage meant that the collection had to move. The upper story also houses a beautiful secondary tiled floor of c.13, one of the finest in England.

The Chapter House is the only two-storey Chapter House in the UK, and the only one shaped as an octagon, stretched on its west-east axis, with a ten-celled roof, vaulted from a central pillar. Today, the Chapter House is home to a long-term exhibition that focuses on the Anglo-Saxon history of the Cathedral. It includes the St Chad Gospels, the Lichfield Angel, and associated Christian items from the Staffordshire Hoard.

The appeal will be launched by the Very Rev’d Adrian Dorber, Dean of Lichfield, and the Appeal Chairman, Mr Johnny Leavesley. It comes almost 12 months after the Cathedral raised £3.7 million to restore and reinstate the Herkenrode stained glass windows, and just before the Cathedral completes its current project of re-wiring and re-lighting the Cathedral and The Close.

The Very Revd Adrian Dorber, Dean of Lichfield, says: “Our Cathedral is beautiful but fragile. It falls to us to look after it and keep it in good repair for the rest of this century. We hope we can raise funds from a wide variety of sources and get the job done in 2016/2017. We want to show Lichfield Cathedral and its proud city to many more people, so playing our part in strengthening the economy of the area and ministering to a wider and more diverse public.”

-ENDS-

Notes to Editors
The Chapter House Appeal will launch at 4pm on Tuesday 2nd February 2016, in the Cathedral. All media are welcome to attend. There will opportunities for photos to be taken in the magnificent Cathedral Library, where special items will be on display.

For further information please contact Abby Wilson (Marketing Officer) at abby.wilson@lichfield-cathedral.org or on 01543 306121.

Lichfield Cathedral

Lichfield Cathedral – a centre of Christian worship for over 1300 years.

Lichfield Cathedral is one of the oldest places of Christian worship in Britain and the burial place of the great Anglo-Saxon missionary Bishop, St Chad.  It has a rich history, which is reflected in its architecture and treasures. It lies seventeen miles north of Birmingham and it is the only medieval Cathedral with three spires.  It is the Mother Church of the Church of England Diocese of Lichfield and its symbolic centre.  The Cathedral is committed to the daily offering of worship and prayer to God, and of spiritual nourishment to all who come on their own journey of search and discovery.

Cathedral Treasures

Lichfield Cathedral is home to the St Chad Gospels and the Lichfield Angel:

The St Chad Gospels, an illuminated Anglo Saxon gospel book which dates from about 730 (that is, about 50 years older than the famous Book of Kells).

Discovered in 2003 the Lichfield Angel is a remarkable survival of Saxon sculpture. The carved limestone corner-piece, which is dated to around 800 A.D., comprises three separate fragments which are thought to have formed part of a tomb chest, presumably that of St Chad (d.672).

Lighting and Rewiring Project

Lichfield Cathedral has been named as one of 31 cathedrals to receive a grant from government-sponsored scheme, the First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund. The fund was set up to support vital repairs to some of England’s most important historic buildings. Lichfield will receive £800,000, the largest of the grants, to go towards the next big fundraising development, the lighting and rewiring project. The Cathedral was facing the possibility of closure without the essential work.

Abby Wilson

Marketing Officer, Lichfield Cathedral, 01543 306121, e) abby.wilson@lichfield-cathedral.org or visit www.lichfield-cathedral.org