From the Very Revd Jonathan Greener, Dean of Exeter
Amazing: the contractors have moved onto site. As I’ve reported a number of times recently, the work on the Chapter House is about to begin. But seeing actual builders and their machinery in the Cloister Garden makes our Cathedral Development Project feel very real at last. Just to remind you, at this stage there are two parts to the work: new underfloor heating, and the installation of a new glass porch. You’ll remember that the underfloor heating installed in the 1970s didn’t survive the decade. Technology and reliability have improved considerably since then, and we hope this system will be here for the long-term. The new porch will provide level access for all, and serve as a heat and sound barrier while the great west doors are left open. Conservation of the fantastic ceiling and the medieval painting in the niches, along with new lighting, will have to wait for a later project, though the consultation about this work remains open, and we would be grateful if you could spare time to participate in this survey if you have not already done so.
Thanks to a new grant announced earlier this week, this Chapter House work will take place alongside the replacement of the South Aisle Roof, and some major work on our stained glass in the East End. Clearly we shall be living alongside a significant building site for a busy, possibly frantic, few months, which I imagine will require patience and generosity from us all. I dare to hope it will be a rehearsal for us all in the hope that we shall be successful in our Round 2 Lottery funding.
You will remember that we have recently completed some archaeology outside the Chapter House. The purpose of this was principally to uncover the foundations of the original medieval cloister, to inform the design of our new Cloister Gallery. We now have a short video which records something of what went on during the dig, and describes our exciting plans for the future. It lasts less than 6 minutes, and is well worth a watch on our YouTube channel.
And now to the big question people have been asking recently: what’s happening about the Exeter Cathedral Christmas Market? I’m pleased to say that following lots of consultation, and plenty of hard work, we have decided this is still to take place from 21 November - 19 December. This is really positive news for our traders, for the city, and for us as a cathedral. It gives us all something to look forward to. Of course, a huge amount of planning has been necessary to ensure that we can deliver it in a safe manner. We believe that by requiring face coverings to be worn, by radically altering the layout of the market, and by controlling visitor numbers, we can minimise the risk. The pandemic is, of course, a developing situation. So alongside all the preparations, we will be continuing to monitor and reassess our safety measures in consultation with our traders, Exeter City Council, the Safety Advisory Group and Public Health England. But the build is still scheduled to start on 2 November.