Worcester Cathedral is among 142 historic sites across England that are receiving grants worth £35 million through the second round of the government’s Culture Recovery Fund.
Worcester Cathedral was awarded £328,794, which will be used to continue essential repairs to its medieval library.
The funding will not only help to secure some of the cathedral’s most valuable treasures – including the will of King John and a 1225 copy of Magna Carta – but also enable it to enhance its environmental sustainability.
During autumn 2019 the cathedral library team started to report water ingress to the building. A resulting inspection made clear there was a significant issue with the roof and associated masonry.
During lockdowns, environmental conditions in the library deteriorated further, placing some of the cathedral’s most important artefacts at risk.
With support from round one of the CRF, the skilled team was able to fully overhaul and re-cover the roof of the ante-library and thermally stabilise the conservation room, which houses the most sensitive items of the collection.
Phase two of the essential improvement works to the main library means that they can now continue to improve the thermal and sustainable measures of the rest of the library; encouraged by the aims of the 2030 net-zero carbon target set by the Church of England.
Funding through phase two of the CRF will enable the cathedral to: provide temporary protection to the library; re-cover the lead roof, improving the detail where possible; improve rainwater disposal locally and; install a latch-on man safe system to the roofs.
In addition, some of the cathedral high roofs needing urgent attention immediately above the library can also be repaired to prevent water ingress.
Emily Draper, estates manager at Worcester Cathedral, said: “I am delighted by the news that our plan for phase two of the library roof works has been supported and funded by the Culture Recovery Fund for programmes of major works.
“This work will make such a difference to the health of the main library and ensure we are protecting the precious collection for the future. It is wonderful that we can repair the tiles and give the south transept and south slope of the nave some much needed love and attention too. I am excited for the project to start and looking forward to being able to clip on to our new safety system and tour the upper roof spaces.”
Worcester Cathedral houses one of the most important libraries and archives of any English cathedral and attracts visitors and scholars from all over the world.
It has collected manuscripts since the seventh century and now has the second largest collection of medieval manuscripts in any cathedral in the UK.
It contains nearly 300 manuscripts, maps, plans, drawings, books and archives dating from the 10th century onwards and many still have their original bindings. The library also holds many early printed books and music (from medieval to Edward Elgar), historical documents and ancient artefacts.
Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s chief executive, said: “Funding from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund is hugely welcome at a time when the people and organisations who look after our vast and varied array of heritage urgently need support to carry out essential repairs. Heritage is a fragile ecosystem, with an amazing cast of characters who keep our historic places alive, with specialist skills that take time to learn and experience to perfect. These grants will protect their livelihoods, as they use their expertise to help our heritage survive.”