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Physical Works

There are a lot of changes happening across the Cathedral site, but at the end of it all, the Cathedral will have a water-tight (and safe) roof to the Nave, improved landscaping and accessibility, new interpretation, new visitor facilities and community spaces. Plus the fabric of this beautiful building will be restored and in a better condition for all to enjoy for many more years to come.

November 2019

  • Six levels of scaffolding have now been dismantled from the Western Towers since the project started.
  • In the new Visitor Centre fascia panels have been installed and the heating system has been commissioned.
  • Paving in front of the new Welcome Centre has begun and the Easternmost tree pit was completed allowing a lime tree to be planted.
  • The North Nave Aisle roof has been re-designed so that it is in two tiers, with ventilation allowed through the riser of the upper tier. 
  • A sump and swan neck has been completed in bay 8.
  • Repairs to buttress no.2 has been completed.
  • Most glazing grooves for the stained glass and the protective glazing is now completed, other than those in the two Westernmost windows. 
  • Stonework around the doorway into both the SW and NW Towers was completed.

October 2019

  • The sliding glass doors to the reception area of the visitor centre were fitted.
  • The slatted wooden ceilings and decorative timber cladding on the walls of the stairway of the Viewing Gallery were completed.
  • Oak flooring in the shop was completed and protective coverings installed by the middle of the month.
  • The vinyl flooring in the Community Studio staff area has been installed.
  • The ground workers prepared the area outside the Old Palace for concreting.
  • The first tree pit was completed. 
  • Timber conservation continues through bay 6 and bay 5.
  • The new wooden door to the Howley Library was installed, this is hand-made, crafted in wood grown in Kent.
  • The glass screen door in the Howley Library was installed as were the sliding doors at the Southern end of the corridor.
  • The masons have made good progress on the North Nave Aisle, with stone cut for buttress no.1 fixed at the end of the month. 
  • Setting out continues for Stage 3 on both the Western Towers and South Nave Aisle buttresses and windows.
  • The installation of exhibition cases in the Water tower is now complete.

September 2019

  • The archaeologists completed the first excavation outside the gate to the Archbishop’s Palace by mid-September and commenced working on the area in front of the gates to the Works’ Yard immediately after.
  • The pavers continued work in the area to the South of the apron in front of the South West Porch. This is a particularly complex section of paving, with sets cut on a radius.
  • Timber conservation/repair was concentrated in bays 7, 6 and 5 throughout September, with completion of both 7 and 6 before the end of the month and partial completion of bay 5.
  • The installation of exhibition cases began in the Water tower.
  • The repair of pinnacles 4 and 5 was completed and the scaffolding removed.
  • Work on buttresses 3 and 4 was completed as was work to window bays 3 and 4.
  • High level works to the decorated cornice and upper masonry courses of the North West Tower were completed.

August 2019

  • The flint wall to the Community Studio was completed, the zinc porch roof was installed, the windows were all fitted, gutters installed, partitions and vanity units added to the ground-floor washrooms and plastering throughout the building is now 80% complete.
  • Door-linings and doors are now being fitted throughout the building.
  • Everything at roof level has now been completed and signed off.
  • Landscaping on the South side of The Precincts continued, with paving outside Cathedral House completed.
  • The walkways in the main Nave roof were completed.
  • Snagging of the main Nave roof was completed.
  • The exhibition cases arrived and assembled.
  • A glazed screen at the Southern end of the Water Tower Corridor, near the top of the Dean’s Steps, was installed.
  • On the main fabric of the Cathedral building the windows and surrounding ashlar have been conserved up to and including Bay 3 and further gargoyles have been installed.
  • Pinnacle no.6 on the North Nave clerestory was completed and work has started on pinnacle no.4.

July 2019

  • The top lifts of scaffolding were removed from the Western Towers and the top section of the passenger hoist was removed, the hoist now terminates at level 17.
  • The dismantling of the temporary roof started.
  • The display shelving was installed in the Visitor Centre windows and the Cathedral shop has filled it with Gregory Gargoyles!
  • The large, heavy windows for the first floor Interpretation Space were fitted along with glazing and shutters, which allow for passive ventilation.
  • The roof light over the reception area was installed.
  • Both the reinstallation of boarding in bay 9 and structural timberworks in bay no. 8 were completed.
  • The partition walls and decorating in the Crypt exhibition space are completed.
  • The masons started building a flint and rubble facing wall outside the Community Studio
  • The aisle pinnacles were shelter-coated and repointed.
  • The construction of the gutter bed and associated work in bay no. 9 was completed.

June 2019

  • The scaffolding around the pinnacles on both the Western Towers was struck and the longer lengths of tube set aside for use along the South Nave Aisle.
  • The roof on the Visitor Centre was completed, scaffolding was struck and the hoarding was dismantled, hand-rails were installed in the reception area, dry lining work began and the lift was installed.
  • The archaeologists Canterbury Archaeological Trust (CAT) completed recording the area outside the Great West Door and continued work in the Western Precincts where there were several finds, including a silver Elizabethan sixpence, a 17th century bread token and pieces of wrought stone from the medieval builds, used as backfill for the footings of the Victorian and post-WW2 buildings.
  • Concrete was laid in front of the West Door for paving to start in mid-July. More paving was laid outside Cathedral House, to the East of the front door and a finished sweep of paving now runs from this point Eastwards, to the extent of the area encompassed by the project. Some of the borders have now been filled with earth and are ready for planting by the Cathedrals’ gardening team.
  • Work on the roof continues.
  • A coat of arms carved to celebrate the generous donation by Sir Michael Uren to the refurbishment of Christ Church Gate, was fixed into the South East flank of the North West Turret of the gate.

May 2019

  • Further progress in the Visitor Centre with the installation of the underfloor heating system, the installation of a staircase to the first floor, installation of the stainless steel gutters was completed, roof tiles now being fixed, a temporary office space constructed to allow the Visits staff to occupy the front of the building in July, and the construction of the ‘chimneys’ (exhaust vents for the boiler and the passive ventilation system).
  • The landscaping in front of the South compound gates was completed.
  • Work on the North Nave Aisle roof was started, with the boards being stripped off bays no.9 and no.8.
  • The lead workers completed the abutment of the roof with the Western gable and gutters have been laid in the valley between the Nave roof and the Western Towers.
  • Iron gates that stood at the Southern end of the Water tower corridor were relocated to the Library corridor, (where they originally stood).
  • The installation of the intermediate pinnacles on the South West tower was completed and the intermediate pinnacle on the North West Tower was installed.

April 2019

  • The oak beams needed to support the first floor viewing gallery in the Visitor Centre arrived and were fitted and oak boards added to support the floor.
  • Fire safety was a key focus in the Visitor Centre with adjustments to the fire exits, installation of fire shutters and a new fire alarm system.
  • The paving to the area in front of the entrance to The Cathedral Lodge and the path to the South Door was completed by the end of April as was the new paving adjacent to the South West Porch.
  • Work on the Nave aisle roofs is progressing, with lead now stripped off Bay no.9 on the North side, two newly-repaired trusses reinstated in Bay no.9 on the South side and boarding reinstated up to Truss no. 2 in Bay 9, on the South side.
  • Limecrete flooring was laid in the Western Crypt.
  • Masons have been working stone for the pinnacles, Western Towers and clerestory at both Broadoak and the on-site workshop.

March 2019

  • The roof on the Visitor centre is complete and ready for tiling and the lift shaft was completed.
  • Excavation on the West end of the cathedral continued throughout the month in readiness for the installation of drainage and the concrete slab.
  • The second-phase cleaning in the lower belfry in the South West Tower was completed and Dormer doors were installed to both tower roofs.
  • The concrete steps into the Howley Library were removed at the end of March and have revealed the original Caen stone step, still in good condition. A new threshold will be cut to replace the rubble found under the lower concrete step.
  • Masons returned to site during March and work on cleaning the tracery in the North clerestory windows was re-started, as well as repairs to the first of the flying buttresses on the North side.

February 2019

  • Painting and decorating has begun on the Visitor Centre. The new sliding doors have been installed in the shop frontage on Burgate and work to install stud walls at first floor level in the interpretation space continues.
  • The staircase from the landing to the upper ground floor was installed and the first fix electrical supplies are being installed to allow the Visits team to occupy the front part of the building.
  • Significant progress was made on the Landscaping due to the weather in February being unusually warm and dry.
  • The glass doors and screening across the Eastern end of the Exhibition space in the crypt were removed and a dwarf wall to support the new partition was constructed on the North side of the Crypt.

January 2019

  • Asphalt roofing started on the Visitor Centre. Plastering and other finishes continued in the older building, which will house the stores and offices, to the rear of the site.
  • The paving outside Cathedral House and up to the entrance to the Cathedral Lodge is 80% complete and the path to the South Door has been excavated allowing the service trenches to be installed and drainage laid in.
  • The North West Tower roof completed including a galvanised staircase from the upper belfry deck to the dormer. The South West tower is also nearing completion.
  • Work to the West end of the main Nave roof (Zone 8) has now started and all the lead and battens have been stripped. Decayed timber has been identified and is now ready for repair.

December 2018

  • The brickwork at ground floor level of the new Visitor Centre has all been completed and the second phase to bring it to the full height of the two-story building will start after Christmas and New Year.
  • The landscape paving in Phase1 was completed and an additional area of concrete laid at the SE corner of the site. The areas outside The Cathedral Lodge and Cathedral House were concreted before Christmas and paving near the entrance to The Lodge has commenced.
  • The lead workers were able to take advantage of a period of dry, calm weather in early December 2018 to progress work on the South West Tower. Over half the roof was laid before the Christmas break and a favourable forecast for the early part of the New Year will see them return to site in January 2019.
  • Setting out for the North Nave Clerestory and the windows continued, as did that for the North West and South West Towers. Most of the team is in one or other of the workshops and production of worked stone is progressing well.

November 2018

  • The scaffolders started to construct a temporary roof over the West end of the Nave roof, between the Western towers and made alterations to the scaffolding adjacent to the clock face, on the South elevation of the SW Tower. to facilitate its removal for conservation and repair.
  • Remaining steels were erected during the early part of the month, with the longer, heavier beams that support the roof abutting the Proctor’s Lodging wall and the door frame and porch for the link building, being lifted into position by means of a small pillar crane during the evening of Tuesday 27th November. The operation went smoothly and the installation will enable roof works to progress more swiftly.
  • Lead works to the NW Tower roof were completed by mid-November.
  • The Cathedral clock dial, which measures 2.2 metres in diameter, was removed on Tuesday 27th November for conservation work. It was successfully lowered by means of a hoist from the West Front of the Cathedral and landed safely, before being sent to the Cumbria Clock Company for conservation work on the clock dial. The clock mechanism was also removed over the next two days and will undergo conservation before returning in 2020.
  • The masonry team have continued cleaning on the North Clerestory, completing all the work to the pinnacles, ashlar and three of the clerestory windows by the end of November. A combination of steam cleaning, poultice and careful use of the Jos, wet-head air-abrasive system have produced excellent results.

October 2018

  • The steel-workers were on the Visitor Centre site throughout the month and the first wooden roof beams have been fixed. The steps to the cellar were also cast in concrete at the end of the month.
  • The archaeologists were on site excavating early walls and other evidence, alongside the groundworks team as preparation work continues around the Precincts.
  • Phase1 Landscaping progressed well throughout October with the installation of the new paving slabs on top of the concrete base.
  • In our Crypt exhibition space a trial of a limecrete system was started at the beginning of October 2018. The material has to be applied in layers, with time allowed for curing between applications.
  • Decoration of the ceiling in the Library Undercroft Exhibition space was completed and some of the new lighting was installed and tested.
  • Work to the inner flanks of the towers was completed to allow the installation of the temporary roof was completed.
  • The repair of the first flying buttress (no.7) was completed.

September 2018

  • There has been good progress in the new Visitor Centre. Brickwork and blockwork are underway and the stud walls in the Community Studio are being erected.
  • The first concrete bases have been poured for the new landscaping.
  • A beetle infestation was identified in the roof timbers and this has now been treated.
  • New stainless steel gutters have been completed, the lead gutters laid and re-leading has proceeded around the central bays of the roof.
  • Cleaning and repairs of the North clerestory windows progressed throughout the month. The masons paused work on the flying buttresses to concentrate on the clerestory window repairs in preparation for the reintroduction of the stained glass.

August 2018

  • The stonemasons have completed work on the south west tower pinnacles and are finishing up the new parapet.
  • They are also continuing the cleaning of the Nave aisles and flying buttresses, and the scaffolders have erected temporary roofs over the aisles to protect the area from the elements.
  • On the north west tower, Dolmens are continuing with timber repairs to the roof, before it gets re-leaded.
  • In landscaping, phase 1 is almost ready for laying, and Buxtons have begun excavating phase 2. This part of the landscaping will reinstate the flint wall in front of the Lodge that was on the original plans but never built.

July 2018

  • The stonemasons are continuing work on the Nave aisles, cleaning, re-pointing and shelter coating the pinnacles and flying buttresses.
  • On the West Towers, the stonemasons have rebuilt the parapet of the south tower, while lead and timber replacement is carried out on the north tower
  • In the Welcome Centre, the steel framework of the Welcome Centre, Viewing Gallery and Community Studio began being erected.
  • In landscaping, the excavations of phase 1 continued, delayed by the archaeologists uncovering unexpected walls from previous structures!

    Stonemasons cleaning the stone on the Nave aisles

June 2018

  • The last of the temporary roof was removed from the main part of the Nave, revealing the new lead work so far. Following this, the scaffolding will be changed and temporary roofs created over the aisles to enable lead, wood and stone repairs to be carried out.
  • Coniston returned to site to begin stripping the lead on the roofs of the West Towers.
  • Stone conservation on the North and South West Towers is progressing and further levels of scaffolding are being removed, slowly unveiling the cleaned stone.
  • The stonemasons are also starting work on the Nave aisles, cleaning the pinnacles and flying buttresses ahead of conservation and repairs.
  • In the Welcome Centre, the temporary works to hold up the Cathedral Gate Hotel have been carried out and soon the final concrete slabs can be laid.
  • In landscaping, the excavations of phase 1 continued.

May 2018

  • Following the partial reveal of the new roof, the first new gargoyle was installed on the building, an event widely covered in the media (BBC SE and ITV Meridian)
  • The last bit of new roof is being installed ready for full reveal.
  • Stone conservation on the South West Towers is progressing and further levels of scaffolding are being removed, slowly unveiling the cleaned stone.
  • In the Welcome Centre the archaeologists continue excavating the basement and staircase, while Buxtons prepare for temporary works to be carried out to support the nearby building.

    The first of eight new gargoyles to be added to the building
  • In landscaping, excavations also continue and the first orders of the new paving begin to arrive.

April 2018

  • A section of the temporary roof was removed to reveal the newly re-leaded roof. The rest will follow soon.
  • Dolmens have finished all timber repairs on the roof so far and are now off site.
  • Two levels of scaffolding on the South West Towers came down as stone conservation and repair is completed.
  • The stonemasons continue conserving and repairing stone on site, and carving up at the masons’ yard.
  • In the Welcome Centre, concrete foundations have begun being laid in areas cleared by the archaeologists.
  • The archaeologists are now digging out other areas of the Welcome Centre area such as the basement and staircase.
  • In landscaping, the team have unexpectedly discovered a large concrete slab under the paving. They are now cutting trenches through the slab for service pipes so the whole thing doesn’t have to be removed.
  • A second team of archaeologists are providing a watching brief over the landscaping works.

March 2018

  • Scaffolding on the South West Tower pinnacles has come down, revealing the cleaned, re-pointed and shelter-coated stone.
  • The stonemason team are back on site cleaning, re-pointing and shelter-coating the North West Tower pinnacles
  • Lead and timber repairs to the roof continued.
  • Part of the foundations for the new Community Space have been laid.
  • Cleaning of the Nave ceiling is almost complete.

February 2018

  • The scaffolding is remaining steady at the moment, while the team work on the Cathedral Organ Project, a separate Cathedral conservation project.
  • Lead and timber repairs to the roof continued.

    The landscaping works begin
  • Five new stonemasons have been appointed, bringing the total team up to 30.
  • Work began on phase one of the landscaping part of The Canterbury Journey. The current paving has served us well, but will be replaced with a York stone to significantly improve access and bring visual coherence to the South Precincts.
  • Cleaning of the interior Nave ceiling continues.

January 2018

  • Scaffolding on the north side continued
  • The lead for section one of the roof is almost complete, while timber repairs are almost complete on section two ready for lead.
  • The stonemasonry team are hard at work in their workshop carving stone ready for the next season. They also continued carving the new gargoyle heads, and setting out the north towers.
  • In the welcome centre, archaeologists continue to dig out the area for foundations
  • Preparations for phase 1 of the landscaping work to begin in February are underway. Read more about the landscaping work here.

December 2017

The Canterbury Journey is one year through this massive project, doesn’t time fly?

  • Scaffolding continued on the North side of the Nave aisles
  • Lead continued to go onto section one of the roof, while timber repairs continue on section two – look out in February for a sneak peek at the new roof!
  • The stonemasonry team have returned to their workshop where they will carve over the winter. They have completed one of the eight new gargoyle heads that will be fixed onto the building in spring.
  • In the Welcome Centre, archaeologists continue to excavate the ground while Buxton are planning out the schedule for landscaping which will begin in the new year.

November 2017

Lead workers, Full Metal Jacket, with the first panel of new lead to go on the building.

  • Scaffolding of the West Towers up to the top of the pinnacles was completed. The scaffolding team have now started building up the Nave aisles on the North side.
  • On the roof, new lead is being put onto the first section of the roof after the timber repairs were completed. The roofers have now moved onto the second section and have started on timber repairs.
  • The stonemasonry team are continuing to clean, shelter-coat and repoint the pinnacles. While some remain on site to set out the towers, other members of the team have moved back to the Masons’ Yard to begin carving the next ‘season’ of stone over the winter.
  • In the Welcome Centre compound, the archaeologists continue to excavate the ground. Meanwhile, Buxton Building Contractors have been appointed for the construction of the new Welcome Centre and landscaping elements of The Canterbury Journey.

October 2017

  • Scaffolding continued up the West Towers
  • On the roof, the old timber has been replaced and new battens and box gutters are being created.
  • Stonemasons continued work on the Nave roof level and continued setting out the North West Tower. They also began cleaning, shelter-coating and repointing the pinnacles.
  • In the Welcome Centre, demolition is complete and archaeologists from Canterbury Archaeological Trust continued to excavate the ground

September 2017

  • Scaffolding on the Nave roof is complete for now, and they are focusing on the West Towers and covering the pinnacles
  • On the Nave roof, timbers are beginning to be replaced and the old lead is at the smelting plant and will be recycled into new panels to be replaced onto the building
  • In the Welcome Centre, demolition is almost complete and archaeologists are excavating the ground
  • Stonemasons continued work on the Nave roof level and have started setting out on the West Towers. This will identify which stones need work, and what the masons will carve over the winter months

August 2017

  • Scaffolding continued up the West Towers
  • Masons continued replacing the stone on the Nave roof
  • Boreholes and drainage completed and area returned to grass
  • Demolition of Welcome Centre, Proctors Lodge and inside 36/37 Burgate continued.
  • Lead continued to be removed from the roof and a survey of the timber frame was conducted, identifying which parts need replacing.
  • Removal of Austin Jr windows was completed, they will be stored and conserved before being reinstated.

July 2017

Contractors removing lead from the Nave Roof

  • Old Welcome Centre was demolished.
  • Work on 36/37 Burgate and Proctor’s Lodge began.
  • Work on finishing the two remaining boreholes continued.
  • Erection of external scaffold on the Cathedral continued.
  • Temporary roof of the Nave completed.
  • Lead began to be removed from the Nave roof.
  • Exploration and assessment of the roof timbers began.
  • Stonemasons continued to work on the Clerestory level.
  • Panels of the Austin Jr windows on the Clerestory level continued to be removed to enable the Cathedral Studios to carry out repairs and conservation on the windows.

June 2017

  • Contractors appointed for demolition of old Welcome Centre – Jenner Ltd, based in Folkestone, Kent.
  • Interior strip and demolition of old Welcome Centre began.
  • Work on the remaining two boreholes for the relief drain continued, though the archaeological investigations are now completed.
  • Panels of the Austin Jr. windows on the Clerestory level continued to be removed to enable the Cathedral Studios to carry out repairs and conservation on the windows.
  • Erection of external scaffold on the Cathedral continued.
  • Erection of scaffold for temporary roofing began.
  • Stonemasons continued to work on the Bell Harry abutment, so scaffolding can be completed.

    Temporary Welcome Centre

May 2017

  • First stones arrived on site and fixing into the building began.
  • Works compound completed, including contractor welfare hut and storage.
  • Temporary Welcome Centre completed and handed over to Cathedral staff.
  • Work on one borehole was completed. Work on the remaining two boreholes for the relief drain continued, including the archaeological investigations.
  • Panels of the Austin Jr. windows on the Clerestory level continued to be removed to enable the Cathedral Studios to carry out repairs and conservation on the windows.
  • Erection of external scaffold on the Cathedral continued.
  • Roof contractor appointed – Coniston Ltd, based in Dartford, Kent.

April 2017

  • The temporary shop store was completed and handed over to Cathedral staff.
  • Work on the temporary Welcome Centre continued.
  • Work on the main works compound continued.
  • Samples of flint walls and landscaping surfaces were built next to the temporary Welcome Centre. They will be used as examples of materials and styles of workmanship and pattern to be used in the landscaping to be constructed as part of the project.
  • Work began on cleaning the brickwork of the Proctor’s Lodge near the Christ Church Gate.
  • Work on boreholes for the relief drain continued, including the archaeological investigations.
  • Panels of the Austin Jr. windows on the Clerestory level started to be removed to enable the Cathedral Studios to carry out repairs and conservation on the windows. They will be reinstated towards the end of the project.
    George Austin Jr. was Surveyor of the Fabric 1848-62, and during his time, created a set of windows at the Clerestory level (currently hidden from view by the safety deck). You can find out more about Austin’s work, and a general history of stained glass at the Cathedral here.
  • Erection of external scaffold on the Cathedral continued.

March 2017

  • The Safety Deck is complete and the Nave has now returned to its normal use – it’s quite an impressive structure! Watch a timelapse of its construction below.
  • Construction of the temporary Welcome Centre in the Precincts was begun, along with a temporary shop store behind the Lodge. The current Welcome Centre will be demolished to make way for the new Welcome centre, Viewing Gallery and Community Space – work on this will begin in the summer.
  • Work on construction of the compound continued.
  • Stonemasons have almost finished carving the first phase of stone to be replaced in the summer months.
  • Boreholes were in the process of being dug around the flagpole to finish off the new drainage system.
  • Designs were begun for the hoardings that surround the compound, with information about the project.
  • Scaffolding continued to be built around the West Towers and Clerestory.

February 2017

  • Construction of the new drainage system continued.
  • Construction of the works compound was begun on the Precinct lawn, including hoardings. The compound will be in situ until the end of the project.
  • The safety deck in the Nave was near completion.
  • Scaffolding continued to go up around the West Towers and Clerestory.

January 2017

  • A new drainage system installed in the South Precincts.
  • Scaffolding erected on the Clerestory and around the West Towers.
  • Scaffolding in preparation for the safety deck went up in the Nave. The safety deck will be in place while the roof is repaired, catching any falling debris and enabling internal works to take place.

 December 2016

  • Archaeological works completed in 36/37 Burgate in preparation for the Welcome Centre, Viewing Gallery and Community Space.
  • Archaeological works completed in the South Precincts ready for the new drainage system to be installed in January.
  • All remains discovered are being stored at the Canterbury Archaeological Trust ready to be reinterred at a later date.


Keep an eye on this page for regular updates on the physical works taking place throughout The Canterbury Journey.

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