Chichester Cathedral Roof Restoration – update

Cathy Clark, Communications and PR coordinator at Chichester Cathedral,  provides an update on progress with this five-year project

As we reported in the Society’s September 2019 Newsletter, a major project to restore and re-cover the Cathedral’s roofs is underway: the failing copper roof installed after World War Two was allowing rainwater to penetrate the roof vault, damaging the medieval timber structure, masonry and ceiling plasterwork. The project to replace the copper with more traditional lead will last five years and cost £5.8 million.

The work has been split into three phases: Quire, Transepts and Nave. Last November, the second phase, started in March 2019 was completed: the extensive scaffolding was removed, revealing the new lead roof covering the Transepts and Lantern. This part of the project has also included masonry works to repair nineteenth century stones on the Lantern. Decorative stone pillars and stone blocks that face the salty south-westerly coastal wind had become badly eroded and have now been restored.

A just reward

Last summer also saw double recognition for the repair work at the 21st annual Sussex Heritage Awards run by the Sussex Heritage Trust. Lead worker John Hill, along with his sons Lewis and Dale, were winners in the prestigious Building Crafts Award section for the re-covering of the Quire roof. In addition, the Cathedral received Highly Commended status in the Ecclesiastical Award category for the Quire roof restoration. This additionally celebrates the vital work of carpenters John Maddison and Constantin Nistok who are working to repair any damaged timbers that support the new lead covering.

When is completion expected?

The remaining green copper roof covering the Nave is the final and largest phase of the restoration. The scaffolding required is even more complex than before and will take around five months to build.

As this roofing project proceeds we can compare the new-laid lead roof panels over the Lady Chapel (at right) with the existing copper roof over the Nave – the next stage in this five year programme (Photo Bob Wiggins)













Throughout the roof project, work has been carefully planned to minimise disruption to the peregrine falcons who return each spring to breed on the spire: as a result they successfully raised seven chicks in 2018 and 2019. Work has now been deliberately delayed in order to safeguard these protected birds of prey. Work will therefore commence on the Nave roof this summer to complete the project once any peregrine chicks have fledged. Meanwhile Chichester Cathedral Trust is still actively fundraising to raise the funds for this vital project.

£1.7million is still needed – if readers would like to make a donation please contact Ali George, Head of Fundraising at the Cathedral on 01243 812480 or email

This article appears in the March 2020 issue of the Society’s Newsletter. Access to its full content* will not be available online till June, so if you want to read this informative issue before then go here to join the Society. 

*Its content includes articles on the Chichester Harbour, St Mary’s Hospital, Selsey’s Lifeboat Station and the arrival of Vietnamese Boat People in Chichester.

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