The Cathedral’s ambition is to enable its full potential for Ministry and Mission and claim its place as one of the nation’s premier Cathedrals. There are a collection of exciting, interrelated projects ahead which together amount to a once-in-a-generation opportunity, if we can bring them to successful fruition. Now is our moment of destiny and it will require courage and commitment to rise to it. It will also require a conviction that it is worth straining the sinews on behalf of the worship and witness of the Cathedral. The individual projects that create a stunning whole are as follows:
- Fabric restoration relating to the Presbytery lead roof, 16th Century wooden vaulting beneath, and clerestory medieval glass and window structure, all at high level.
- A three-level exhibition project to engage with our visitors in the enclosed area of the South Transept which would (i) relocate the Winchester Bible to the ground floor, (ii) create a ‘Decoding of the Stones’ exhibition about the Cathedral and its development on the mezzanine floor and (iii) create a further ‘Birth of a Nation’ exhibition at the Triforium level interpreting the Mortuary Chests and the secrets they harbour.
- Refresh the existing Song School and create from the present Williams Room (where the Winchester Bible is currently) an additional facility to compensate for the loss to the Music Department of robing space for girl choristers in the Calefactory.
- Radically refurbish the current Education Centre and create an additional facility in the garden behind with secure boundaries for children. At the same time, develop a learning and participation programme to relate to Cathedral interpretation and to complement the new exhibition areas.
- Renew the existing sound system, replace the precarious wiring throughout the Cathedral and install new lighting which is flexible and suitable for all occasions.
- Work with conservators to assess and restore the unique Renaissance Mortuary Chests and their contents, for the Birth of a Nation exhibition.
The total cost of all this work is estimated at circa £19M. An Appeal will be launched at Evensong at 3.30pm on Sunday 23 September. All members of the Cathedral community are asked to rally in support of this event. Please put the date in your diary and make it your determination to be there. We need your shoulder to the wheel.
If we can successfully conclude the Heritage Lottery Bid, for which we have had a Round I pass, that will contribute in the region of £10M which represents 74% funding of the first four elements of the total projects identified in the bullet points above. That leaves £9M to be raised.
The Winchester Cathedral Trust chaired by Dame Mary Fagan, HM Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, is already hard at work. We shall be able to announce on 23 September how much has already been raised. The work will continue in earnest to raise the outstanding sum. We have the backing of the Friends of the Cathedral who are committed to supporting the restoration of the medieval glass and associated costs.
We are talking about an Appeal and substantial works which will require our energy for several years. If we can move on the fundraising energetically then we can hope to see building activity commencing within the next 12 months.
These are exciting times – please board the train, now!