TODAY (March 21) The Leicester Times were given an inside peak at work currently underway to restore and renew the city’s historic Cathedral – the home of King Richard III.
Builders are currently on site at Leicester Cathedral, carrying out £12.7m restoration work, which is designed to enhance the facilities and improve access to visitors of the historic site.
As well as repairs, a visitor and learning centre is being built on the Leicester Cathedral site, which sits on Peacock Lane.
The tomb of King Richard III, who was reburied at the cathedral in 2015, will not be disturbed during the project, which is known as ‘Leicester Cathedral Revealed.’
Project manager Simon Bentley, said that he was excited that work had finally begun on the project, which has been in its planning stages for several years.
“It’s really great to get going after all the preparation and all the generous funding that people have provided us,” he told the Leicester Times.
“Some people talk about a once in a generation project, this is much more than that. It’s a great honour and a privilige to be involved with such a great team, doing such an exciting project.
“Of course there’s pressure with a project like this, there’s challenges but that’s the nature of a complex project of this nature,” he added.
The aim of the ‘Leicester Cathedral Revealed’ project, is to “put the building back into good order, create more space for learning, better manage visitor flow and improve the individual experience of being within the Cathedral,” said a spokesman on the Leicester Cathedral website.
One of the first stages of the scheme was to dismantle an annex known as the Old Song School, something which happened in September.
A new learning and visitor centre will be created in its place, which will help “free up the sacred spaces for their original purpose.”
Other key works will include the restoration and conservation of the stonework, windows and ceilings and a new lime stone floor, which will include energy-efficient underfloor heating.
Four new animal grotesques, including a fox, a tiger and a white boar are being added to the building’s south wall, as a nod to Leicester’s sporting and historic heritage.
Mr Bentley said the investment will pay off for Leicester in terms of bringing more visitors and economic value into the city.
“It’s a major landmark, and a building of significance for the city, so I think to enhance that for visitors and to make the visitor experience of coming to Leicester Cathedral even better, that’s what the project is all about,” he said.
“Before the reinterment of Richard III, we were getting visitor numbers of about 30,000 a year. Immediately after the amazing discovery, visitor numbers went up to about a quarter-of-a-million.
“Of course everything’s changed with Covid, everywhere’s faced diminished visitor numbers and they’re just picking up again, but we would hope to be able to cater and look after upwards of about 150,000 visitors coming to the cathedral a year, when we reopen in Autumn 2023.
“We’ve done studies and the cathedral hugely contributes to the economic tourism offer that the city has and so the Leicester Cathedral revealed will build on that,” he added.
To find out more about the project, visit: https://leicestercathedral.org/