Next time you are doing the housework, spare a thought for those carrying out an intricate dusting job in the very highest corners of Canterbury Cathedral.
A specialist team is taking advantage of the temporary safety deck, currently in place 16 metres above the Nave floor, and delicately cleaning the roof vaulting and the decorative roof bosses.
It is a job that gets done rarely and normally only with the help of a MEWP (mobile platform) but the opportunity of a ready-made work station was too good an opportunity to miss.
The Cathedral’s Head of Conservation Heather Newton explained: “This is a once-in-many-generations opportunity to inspect the vault and to do a little high-level housekeeping. The removal of decades of accumulated grime will help those viewing the vault from the Cathedral floor to appreciate the beautiful arcs of the ribs and the bright red and gold of the bosses.
“There is nothing highly sophisticated about our cleaning – museum backpack vacuum cleaners, soft brushes and soft cloths! Those undertaking the work are also keeping a record of the traditional marks left by masons who have worked on the Cathedral over the centuries.”
The £35,000 they have given to help carry out the cleaning is just part of the £471,000 that the Friends, affectionately known as the Cathedral fan club, have presented to the Cathedral during their hugely successful 90th anniversary year (2017).
In addition to donations and money left to the Friends in legacies during 2017, members of the Friends were challenged by their chairman, the Dean of Canterbury, the Very Revd Dr Robert Willis, to organise their own fund-raising activities. These included plant sales, coffee mornings, safari suppers, exhibitions, garage sales, concerts – and even a walk from Canterbury to Winchester by a sponsored dog.
Friends Secretary, Caroline Plaisted said: “The Friends certainly had a friendly time with their celebrations and fundraising in 2017. Friends from all over Kent and the world took part and we have enjoyed knowing that Friends love the Cathedral as much now as they did when we were founded all those years ago.”
The most major grant is £335,000 to pay for the new organ loft to be built later this year as part of the work to renew and enhance the Cathedral’s main organ.
The remainder of the money has been given to assist with the installation of two major art exhibitions; improvements to storage and waste management at the Cathedral stonemason’s yard at Broad Oak; further investigation of the stained glass known as the miracle windows and towards the purchase of an 18th century engraving of Canterbury’s Magna Carta.