Project Director Updates

Stonework repairs and restoration
25 February 2021

An important element of Leicester Cathedral Revealed will be to undertake significant external stone repairs and restoration to the south façade of the Cathedral – the Cathedral Gardens side.

The 2016 Quinquennial Inspection identified the need for work on large areas of defective stone and in particular to address risks of falling stone in public areas.

In response to these findings, and following careful research and discussion with the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England and our own Fabric Advisory Committee, a pilot project of stonework repair was undertaken in the first half of 2018 with funding from the First World War Centenary Cathedrals Repairs Fund.

The pilot project focused on the western end (south and west walls) of the Great South Aisle and the south nave clerestory façades – an area which included all the anticipated conditions so that methods could be tested and refined. The project concentrated on understanding the causes of stone weathering and decay, as well as the existing construction, in order to determine the best restoration techniques.

Valuable lessons were learnt from the pilot project including:

  • The likely extent of stone replacement;
  • The choice of stones to use for the repair;
  • The mortar specification for repair;
  • The need for some core stability ties;
  • The optimum scaffolding design including sheeting, protection, heating and ventilation.

Leicester Cathedral Revealed will use all this learning to undertake further extensive repair, renewal and restoration to the southern façades of the building, addressing stone defect issues and weathered stonemasonry. The works will secure this part of the listed building fabric, improve safety for the public, and be an investment that has long-term visual and cost benefits to the Cathedral.

The 2018 pilot project included the replacement of two badly deteriorated and unstable stone grotesques with new grotesques in the forms of a fox and a tiger. These were modelled by an artist  appointed by the Cathedral, Phoebe Cope, who made drawings and scale clay maquettes that were then carved full size by the stonemasons.

Leicester Cathedral Revealed allows for the replacement of two further grotesques and we have started thinking about what form these may take. Watch this space!

Simon Bentley
Project Director for Leicester Cathedral Revealed

Talking about the weather!
11 February 2021

We’ve all felt the effects of the ‘Beast from the East Two’ this week, with snow and ice, plunging temperatures and bitter winds. It’s a challenge and expense keeping our own homes warm, let alone a large heritage building such as Leicester Cathedral.

A key element of Leicester Cathedral Revealed is to renew and upgrade the heating system, ensuring it is energy efficient and cost effective. This forms an important part of the Cathedral’s plans to reduce its carbon footprint and enable sustainable operations into the future.

In the Cathedral itself, the project will give us the benefits of underfloor heating beneath the new, level stone floors. We were preparing for this as far back as 2014/15, when we were partly reordering the Cathedral in readiness for the reinterment of King Richard III. At that time, we installed an underfloor heating infrastructure beneath the Sanctuary and Ambulatory, and this is now ready for connection to a much more energy efficient method of gentle heating from the ground up.  We will retain and restore some of the existing radiators around the perimeter walls for a quick temperature boost when the weather is particularly cold, like this week!

In the new Heritage Learning Centre, sustainable principles are incorporated into its ‘Passivhaus’ design. This is a voluntary standard that results in energy efficient buildings requiring only low levels of space heating or cooling. It is achieved by a high specification of insulation and air tightness.

Leicester Cathedral Revealed means we will have no more worries about ‘Beasts from the East’! Everyone will be warm. The fabric and fittings will be protected. Our costs will be reduced. And we will be lowering our carbon footprint, thereby playing our part in tackling climate change. A great result!

Simon Bentley
Project Director for Leicester Cathedral Revealed

Decant, storage and protection
28 January 2021

Removing and protecting the Cathedral’s contents and fabric may not seem the most exciting aspect of Leicester Cathedral Revealed but it is an important and interesting part of the project. The fact we are talking about it at this moment also shows that we are getting closer to a time when we hope the contractors can start on site.

The Cathedral has a detailed inventory that records all objects of architectural, archaeological, artistic or historic interest and this will be an important tool in planning and then monitoring the decant, storage and protection stages of the project.

Leicester Cathedral Revealed will repair and restore the existing Cathedral building and also construct a new Heritage Learning Centre on the site of the existing Song School. These major and extensive works will require the Cathedral’s loose fixtures, fittings, objects and artefacts to be carefully removed and stored for the duration of the building works. Other items will need to be fully protected in situ.

Some of this will involve straightforward general storage for items such as the modern stackable chairs. But we also have precious, delicate and historic items – including the large artworks in the North Transept and the Regimental Standards in St George’s Chapel – and these will require professional, specialist assistance.

The Cathedral’s organ will need to be fully protected to ensure it is not damaged by building works, particularly from dust and debris. The smaller chamber organ and grand piano will need to be carefully removed and put into appropriate storage.

Other items that will need careful protection in situ will be the pulpit along with the numerous monuments and memorial stones throughout the Cathedral.

A key consideration in selecting the principal contractor for the building works will be their experience and track record in carrying out sensitive repair, restoration and new-build construction to listed heritage buildings.

So decant, storage and protection are all part of the important process of conservation and renewal.

Simon Bentley
Project Director for Leicester Cathedral Revealed

Interpretation planning and design
20 January 2021

In parallel with the detailed planning and design work to repair, restore and renew the existing cathedral building and construct a new building alongside which will be a centre for heritage and learning, Leicester Cathedral Revealed has been developing interpretative plans and designs. These cover how visitors will experience and enjoy the Cathedral’s different sacred spaces, objects and artefacts and learn more about its history and heritage, mission and ministry from ancient times to current day.

Work in this respect has been undertaken with Haley Sharp Design, who are based in Guildhall Lane immediately adjacent to the Cathedral, and is focused on three key themes:

  • The Cathedral at the heart of city and county
  • The Cathedral’s heritage through architecture & art
  • The Cathedral as a centre for faith & worship

Within the historic interior of the Cathedral, interpretation will be primarily through guided tours that encourage exploration, enquiry and discovery. These will be delivered face-to-face by our knowledgeable and experienced volunteer guides and through two self-guided options – a new hand-held audio guide and a re-designed leaflet guide.

Two mobile touchscreen kiosks will offer free access to audio-visual content relating to key elements of the Cathedral’s heritage and significant people who have featured in its life and development.

The Heritage Learning Centre will provide an opportunity to present to visitors the context of the Cathedral and its long-lasting relationship with city and county. A dynamic audio-visual presentation will draw visitors in and provide an overview of the Cathedral’s history and evolving architecture. Flexible display cases will enable the collections of the Cathedral to be displayed alongside co-curated and community content. Activity tables will provide tactile opportunities for families and school groups and a suspended artwork will provide a striking and intriguing overhead feature.

A suite of attractive and informative signs and panels will be located around the exterior of the Cathedral and within Cathedral Gardens to direct visitors and engage passersby.

Leicester Cathedral Revealed will enable the Cathedral to celebrate is heritage, interpret its significant features and promote its wide-ranging mission and ministry.

Simon Bentley
Project Director for Leicester Cathedral Revealed

The Cathedral’s Peregrine Falcons
13 January 2021

Peregrine Chick on the Deanery © Jim Graham

For the last few years Leicester Cathedral has been delighted to host some special, wild residents – peregrine falcons. These large and powerful birds of prey are among the fastest animals on the planet, reaching speeds of up to 200 miles per hour when ‘stooping’ – diving down on prey, such as feral pigeons, from a great height and taking them in mid-air.

The breeding strongholds of peregrines in the UK are the uplands of the north and west and rocky seacoasts. Numbers were at a low point in the 1960s due to human persecution and the impact of pesticides in the food chain. However, improved legislation and protection has helped the birds to recover and they have now expanded into many urban areas.

Peregrines are a Schedule 1 listed species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act so the planned forthcoming major building works as part of Leicester Cathedral Revealed will be carefully undertaken to ensure minimal disturbance, particularly during the early part of the breeding season between January and March. This is the time adult peregrines pair, mate and lay eggs. Specialist surveys and advice have been sought in this regard.

The story of the Leicester Cathedral peregrines begins in 2014 when a group of volunteers from Leicestershire & Rutland Ornithological Society started surveying and monitoring a known pair of peregrine falcons in Leicester city centre. It quickly became apparent that they were intent on breeding, but unfortunately the location of their nest on a high building was insecure. So it was decided to erect a number of artificial nest boxes on various other buildings to try and encourage the birds to move to a safer location.

A 5-star nest platform was erected on the east facing side of the Cathedral spire in March 2016. This was speedily adopted by the peregrines, with the first successfully breeding in 2018. Nowadays, peregrines can be seen almost daily, either on the platform or on one of the spire crosses. The coming weeks will see increased activity as the breeding season gets underway. The Leicester Peregrines website provides comprehensive information, regular updates and live webcam footage.

The vision for Leicester Cathedral Revealed is to restore the Cathedral building, renew its sacred spaces, and reaffirm the Cathedral’s place at the centre of a resurgent city and county. Our magnificent peregrine falcons are a fascinating and cherished part of our Cathedral life and we will continue to ensure they thrive and prosper in the months and years ahead.

Simon Bentley
Project Director for Leicester Cathedral Revealed

Grant secured from Historic England
5 January 2021

Leicester Cathedral has been awarded a grant of £22,000 from Historic England under the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund. This will enable repair and restoration work to the North Porch and high-level masonry on the south façade to begin very soon.

The work is urgent because the current roof covering to the North Porch is not adequately ventilated and condensation on the underside of the roof has led to fungal infection of the framing (though fortunately the oak vaulting is so far undamaged). A temporary fix provided insulation over the roof, overwrapping it in polythene to stop condensation on the underside, but a long-term solution has been needed for some time.

So, we will now be able to safeguard the impressive and unusual wooden medieval vaulted ceiling of the North Porch, replace damaged lime render pargetted panels either side of the porch, and undertake archaeological surveys to record the medieval framing. Meanwhile, repair and replacement of high level masonry and lead flashing on the south façade (Cathedral Gardens side) will stop serious water ingress.

These works form a small but important element of Leicester Cathedral Revealed and will be undertaken as a discrete project after Easter, before the main building works commence.

Midland Stone Masonry will carry out the work. They are a tried and trusted contractor for the Cathedral and know the building well.

Simon Bentley
Project Director for Leicester Cathedral Revealed

Cathedral site visit for potential contractors
16 December 2020

As part of the tender process for Leicester Cathedral Revealed it was good to meet with potential main contractors at the Cathedral on Tuesday 15 December and show them around the site. I was accompanied by our architects van Heyningen & Haward and also Focus Consultants, who are acting in a project management role.

We are seeking a single main contractor with a proven track record of being able to deliver complex and demanding projects, encompassing sensitive heritage repair and restoration work combined with new build construction.

Leicester Cathedral Revealed will put the existing Cathedral building back into good order by providing a new level stone floor throughout (including underfloor heating); replace failing infrastructure such as boilers, electrical system; install new lighting and audio-visual systems; restore and reveal architectural features; repair much that has deteriorated (particularly stonework and décor); and secure the fabric for the long term.

The project will also construct a new Heritage Learning Centre. This will be a distinct extension to the Cathedral with a confident contemporary appearance, contributing to the surrounding environment while remaining deferential to the historic building and its setting. The new building will extend over four floor levels – two above ground and two below – providing an Orientation/Exhibition Gallery, hospitality and learning spaces, WCs, office and storage.

This is a demanding brief so we need to be confident that we have the right contractor on board to deliver to the exacting standards demanded. The initial site visit was an important first step in that process.

Simon Bentley
Project Director for Leicester Cathedral Revealed

Conservation recycling in St Dunstan’s Chapel!
9 December 2020

Leicester Cathedral Revealed (LCR) will restore and renew our wonderful Cathedral, preserving its historic setting and freeing up its sacred spaces.

One of these beautiful spaces is St Dunstan’s Chapel. The Chapel’s earliest construction is attributed to the later 13th century, although it was rebuilt in the mid-19th century. St Dunstan was Archbishop of Canterbury in the 10th century and scenes from his life are depicted in the south-east window. Behind the altar is a carved panel showing many saints, including St Dunstan holding a hammer, probably a bell hammer as he is the patron saint of bell ringers.

A key part of LCR is to lay new stone floors to provide level access throughout the Cathedral and update the heating system with underfloor heating (essential to achieving our carbon-neutral aims). The Chapel is currently floored in hardwood parquet from the early 20th century, which has minimal heritage value. The LCR works will form a new floor using ledger stones discovered in 2014 during re-ordering of the Chancel in readiness for the reinterment of Richard III. These are currently stored off-site where no one is able to see or appreciate them, and they are slowly weathering. The new floor will enable the preservation and use of these attractive ledger stones that will be selected for their historic significance and artistic value. It will therefore be an important physical conservation project for the Cathedral and a wonderful visual restoration opportunity – providing a link to Leicester’s past, people and craftsmanship.

When the works are complete, they will have considerable aesthetic and conservation value. The preserved ledger stones will be displayed for everyone to see. The architecture, history and stories of St Dunstan’s Chapel will be more accessible and will deepen each person’s enjoyment of being within Leicester Cathedral.

Simon Bentley
Project Director for Leicester Cathedral Revealed

St Dunstan’s Reredos

Design completed and out to tender
2 December 2020

Heritage Learning Centre – design detail

Leicester Cathedral Revealed has now completed the key stage in the design process known as RIBA Stage 4 involving detailed technical design. This has been led by van Heyningen & Haward Architects working in close collaboration with the other members of the design team, including Price and Myers (civil and structural engineers), Martin Thomas Associates (mechanical and electrical engineers), Etude (sustainability engineers), Light Perceptions (lighting design) and Haley Sharpe Design (exhibition / interpretation design).

This stage has also produced the comprehensive and co-ordinated tender documentation, which has just been issued to a short-list of five potential single main contractors. Tender returns are due back at the end of January 2021, which allows time for assessment and negotiation as we work towards starting construction on site in June.

The complex tender process will be guided by Focus Consultants, who are acting in a project management role. They are also assisting with the discharge of statutory planning conditions and will act as Contract Administrator during the building works.

The project has received generous support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, from national and local charitable trusts and foundations, and from individual benefactors.  But fundraising continues, in an extraordinarily challenging environment, since we still need to raise significant funds before we can start the construction work on site.

Simon Bentley
Project Director for Leicester Cathedral Revealed

Drilling on site, archaeological investigations and getting ready to tender
26 November 2020

Contractors have been on site this week drilling a small rotary borehole in Cathedral Gardens close to the Song School. We’re doing this so we can better understand the conditions below ground, such as rock strength and parameters for the detailed piled retaining wall design of the basement in the new Heritage Learning Centre. The borehole was drilled to a depth of at least 20m below ground level in order to obtain 6m of rock core and the information will be included in the tender pack we are preparing for potential contractors.

Meanwhile, Cathedral Archaeologist, Philip Dixon, has been fully involved in this activity because it also provides an opportunity to establish the depth of the successive layers of natural, prehistoric, Roman, post-Roman, medieval and cemetery levels. We will be using this information to plan the archaeological excavation work that must take place before construction can start (we hope to begin in early summer 2021).

Leicester Cathedral Revealed is close to completing a key stage in the design process known as RIBA Stage 4. This involves detailed technical design and brings together the construction information and tender documentation we need as we go out to procure a single main contractor. We plan to start this process very soon.

Of course, we won’t be able to start work on site until we have raised all the money and this is a significant challenge because of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. I will write an update about all this in the next few weeks, once the indicative final costs have given us clarity on the remaining fundraising target.

Simon Bentley
Project Director for Leicester Cathedral Revealed

The new stone flooring
30 August 2020

We were pleased to recently welcome two members of the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England (CFCE) who came on a site visit as part of an ongoing process of approving key elements of proposed repair and restoration works for the Leicester Cathedral Revealed project.

The mock up panel in the Great South Aisle

One of these relates to the proposed new stone flooring and CFCE members were able to view a 4m2 mock-up panel with the correct stone, stone sizes, and grouting.

The panel remains in place in the Great South Aisle for viewing over the coming weeks – do let us know your thoughts and comments.

The main chevron floor pattern is used to reinforce the liturgical emphasis of the Cathedral, subtly highlighting the diagonal path from entrance to Sanctuary, and quietly emphasising the pulpit, lectern and font. It comprises Ancaster Buff from Lincolnshire, which makes a link with the Sanctuary floor (installed 5 years ago) and the bands are differentiated through colour, using greyer Hopton Wood and beige Purbeck stones, rather than tone.

Strips of darker grey/blue Purbeck Grub may be used between the arcades of pillars to help reinforce an east-west emphasis within the otherwise almost square cathedral plan, and also to acknowledge the historic bays of the nave and aisles. Inlays of black Kilkenny in the arcade strips will repeat the detail around the Sanctuary arches.

The pattern has been developed and refined with the input of the project’s accessibility consultant, to ensure it works well for all. In particular it is important that the arcade strips are visually differentiated from the piers, and that the patterns do not give a partially sighted person the illusion of steps or inclines where there are none. The selected range of stones are felt to achieve this.

There will be a lively variety within each ‘stripe’, as the mock-up panel demonstrates. The warm, varied tones work well as an expression of the welcoming, approachable atmosphere that the Cathedral seeks, and combine nicely with the wall joinery and pier stonework colours.

The mortar used in the mock-up panel might be a bit too light, and could be better if a little duller – it is proposed using a mid-tone mortar, closer to the tone of the Ancaster and that used for the Sanctuary.

It is hoped that work may begin in 2021 and will take at least 18 months to complete. Fundraising for the Leicester Cathedral Revealed project is on-going.

Simon Bentley
LCR Project Director

Impression of the view to the lobby © vHH, NLHF, Leicester Cathedral

St George’s Chapel flooring reveal
June 2020

A key part of the Leicester Cathedral Revealed (LCR) project is to lay new stone floors providing level access throughout the Cathedral and update our heating system including underfloor heating. In preparation for this, investigation works were recently carried out to find out what lies below the tiled and mosaic flooring to St George’s Chapel, located in the southwest corner of the Cathedral and enclosed by a carved wooden screen.

St. Georges Chapel was dedicated by the Lord Bishop of Peterborough on 11 November 1921 and contains memorials to the men of the Royal Leicestershire Regiment. Here, the battle honours of the Regiment and the names of those killed in the Crimean, South African and two World Wars are recorded and remembered.

Back in June 1825, King George IV approved the regiment to bear on its colours and appointments the figure of the Royal Tiger with the words HINDOOSTAN, as a testimony of the exemplary conduct of the Corps during the period of service in India between 1804 and 1823. The regiment became known as ‘The Tigers’ and the Royal Tiger is shown in various ways around the chapel, including inlayed with mosaic tiling in chapel floor.

The investigation works were carried out to understand the construction of the floor and evaluate whether the tiling can be safely lifted, stored, and reinstated. With the Cathedral being closed as part of the lock-down measures, it was essential to draw up a full and detailed risk assessment including latest guidance and advice on Covid-19.

The works were carried out by James Elliott, the very experienced and expert stonemason who has had a close involvement with Leicester Cathedral in recent years having constructed the Richard III tomb and the Alabaster Altar within the Sanctuary.

James has extensive knowledge on stone floors and detailing and has the added benefit of being relatively local, being based in Rutland. See for more information on his work.

LCR project architect, Josh McCosh from van Heyningen and Haward, was on hand to oversee the investigative work, which revealed that the mosaics are laid on a thin terrazzo slab, so were therefore originally assembled off-site. These slabs have then been laid on a weak mortar bed on top of a thin lime/concrete slab. The examination did not penetrate any further than the existing tiles and bedding, so there were no archaeological implications.

James and Josh are clear in their view that it will be possible to lift the entire Leicester Tigers tile and mosaic assembly, in its individual slabs, as well as the rest of the St Georges marble floor, and relay it after the new floor and underfloor heating have been installed.

The result of the investigation work will now be formally written up by van Heyningen and Haward in a short report and submitted to the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England in order to obtain formal for the proposed lifting and relaying of the floor of St George’s Chapel.

Fundraising for Leicester Cathedral Revealed continues on all fronts to secure the significant funds still needed to start building and construction work. What was already a challenging task has been made more difficult by the coronavirus emergency – but we move forward in faith, hope and trust.  The project has received generous support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, charitable trusts and foundations and local individuals and organisations.

Focus Consultants appointed to key role
May 2020

With the Leicester Cathedral Revealed project having moved into RIBA Stage 4, involving detailed technical design, we have now appointed Focus Consultants to the Construction Project Manager role.

Steven Fletcher and Richard Aston will comprise the Focus team, and both have extensive experience in heritage and ecclesiastical projects and good local proximity to Leicester.

Focus have been appointed to provide key project management support and advice through RIBA Stage 4, including project programme and phasing, tender procurement strategy and process, and discharging key planning conditions

Steven Fletcher, Partner at Focus, said;
“I am delighted that Focus has been appointed to this role for Leicester Cathedral Revealed. We have been aware of the project for some time and are really looking forward to supporting its ambitious aims of restoring the cathedral building, renewing its sacred spaces and constructing a new Heritage Learning Centre. The project will transform the life and work of the Cathedral into the future, which is tremendously exciting.”

Focus have a track record of delivering Heritage and Cultural projects, working closing with organisations that have limited resources and experience of capital works, and which have received funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and other funding sources.

Project moves into next stage
Tuesday 14 April 2020

With Local Authority Planning Consent having now been granted for the new Heritage Learning Centre, the Leicester Cathedral Revealed project has moved to the next stage, known as RIBA Stage 4. This involves detailed technical design and will be led by van Heyningen & Haward Architects working in close collaboration with the other members of the design team, including Price and Myers (civil and structural engineers), Martin Thomas Associates (mechanical and electrical engineers), Etude (sustainability engineers), Light Perceptions (lighting design) and Haley Sharpe Design (exhibition / interpretation design).

This stage will also develop and co-ordinate the production information and tender documentation needed to procure a single main contractor, hopefully later in the year.

Fundraising continues on all fronts to secure the significant funds still needed to start building and construction work. The project has received generous support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, charitable trusts and foundations and local individuals and organisations.

Simon Bentley, Project Director for Leicester Cathedral Revealed said, “It’s encouraging to see the project moving to the next stage and it’s fortunate that this detailed technical design work can be done despite the very challenging and difficult current conditions caused by coronavirus. We’re getting closer to realising our vision of transforming the Cathedral’s ability to serve wide audiences – both in its mission and ministry and as a heritage attraction.”

Artist’s impression of exhibition space within Heritage Learning Centre – © vHH, NLHF, Leicester Cathedral

March 2020 Newsletter
From the Sub-Dean, The Revd Canon Alison Adams

I am delighted to be sending the latest news on the Dean’s behalf – as many of you may already know, David is currently unwell and will be off work for a few weeks more. We look forward to welcoming him back when he’s ready. Please hold him in your prayers.

View of proposed Heritage Learning Centre from Cathedral Gardens – Image © vHH

I’m pleased that the first newsletter of 2020 brings good news –  Leicester City Council have now granted planning permission for a few design amendments required by the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England to the Heritage Learning Centre. This now opens the door to move through to RIBA stage 4 (where the design work is completed). We are delighted that all bodies – including Chapter and Project Board – are now happy with the designs!  We are also delighted to have reached a point where we can start to explore the detail in terms of fine-tuning project costs and finishings as well as look forward to seeing some more detailed drawings to share with you.


Simon Bentley, Project Director, has now been in post since the start of December, bringing with him a whole raft of experience in developing and delivering community-based initiatives. Simon joins us from his previous post as Director for the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust. He has, of course, come in at the deep end, but has proved his worth many times over already. Simon tells us that ‘this project clearly means so much to the communities of Leicester and Leicestershire and I am so proud to be given the role of driving it through to completion.’

We are planning to start work this autumn on repairing and restoring the Cathedral and constructing the Heritage Learning Centre and completing building works by the end of 2022. This is a very complex undertaking and things might change a little as we move into RIBA Stage 4, so we’ll update you when we next write.

Thank you for your continued support.

The Revd Canon Alison Adams, Sub-Dean of Leicester

October 2019 Newsletter
From the Dean, The Very Revd David Monteith

So much has happened since our last newsletter it becomes hard to keep pace with the changes – all of which are positive. You will no doubt have read in the media about the £800,000 donation from The Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Foundation in memory of its wonderful and much-missed founder. This gift has come at such an important time for us and is – if I may say – a game changer!

So, where are we now?

We have received a Round 2 Pass from what we now call the National Lottery Heritage Fund which means that their £3.3m grant is now confirmed. This autumn we are going back to the planners for some final fine-tuning. We plan to go on site in summer 2020. And as far as fundraising is concerned, we have just over £2million left to raise – of which £1million we need to raise from Leicester and Leicestershire. We have made huge progress but the challenge isn’t over. Not yet.

Supporters of Leicester Cathedral Revealed learn more about the materials to be used on the new building

I’d like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Pete Hobson, who has worked tirelessly on this project, on the reinterment of Richard III project on Cathedral Gardens and on St Martins House. We couldn’t have done any of these incredibly important projects without him. While I am sad to see him go, he will be coming back from time to time, and I know you will all join with me in wishing him every happiness in this new phase of his life.

Of course, we can’t do without a project director and so it gives me great pleasure to announce our new colleague Simon Bentley, who will be joining us this December from the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust. Simon, who has been a regular visitor to the Cathedral over the past 5 years and holds it dear, brings with him a wealth of strategic and director level experience of capital projects and public engagement. His input into the project at such a critical time in its development, will be very welcome.

Ian Mattioli talks with passion about his support for Leicester Cathedral Revealed
Supporters gather to hear news of Leicester Cathedral Revealed
on 9 September 2019.

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Foundation makes major donation to Leicester Cathedral
Monday 9 September 2019

The Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Foundation is to support the restoration and renewal project, Leicester Cathedral Revealed, with a grant of £800,000.

In announcing this grant, Leicester City Chief Executive Susan Whelan said: “The Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Foundation is very proud to support the restoration of Leicester Cathedral – an asset of great value to people of all faiths in our multicultural city. Since its formation, the Foundation has aimed to support causes that make a difference to the lives of people in Leicester – an objective we remain wholly committed to in the delivery of Khun Vichai’s legacy.”

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha first supported the Cathedral with a grant in 2014 towards the reinterment of Richard III and, since then, the Football Club and the Cathedral have worked together supporting the communities in and around the city.

The Very Revd David Monteith, Dean of Leicester, welcomed this support with delight, saying “This is such a transformational gift. Khun Vichai was so supportive of so many important causes in Leicester and it is heartwarming to see the Foundation continue his legacy. I believe this donation sends out a strong message that this is a project which will benefit all our communities because it will enhance the individual experience of being within the Cathedral – whether you come as a visitor, a pilgrim or a worshipper. We now have £2.3m left to raise and this support has given us confidence that we will reach that target.”

LEICESTER, ENGLAND – JULY 27: Chief Executive Susan Whelan is joined by Steve Walsh and The Dean of Leicester David Monteith at King Power Stadium on July 29th , 2019 in Leicester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Plumb Images)

Cathedral Revealed secures full grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund
Tuesday 14 May 2019

Leicester Cathedral’s ambitious £11.3m project to restore the city’s historic cathedral and build a new heritage learning centre beside the main building has secured its full grant of £3.3m from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The Heritage Learning Centre, on the site of the former Song School, will be a two-storey stone building with some terracotta and glass features. Planning approval was secured earlier this year from the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England and Leicester City Council, after taking advice from Historic England, the Leicester Conservation Advisory Panel and others.

The Dean of Leicester, the Very Revd David Monteith said: “Leicester Cathedral Revealed is very important because it will transform what we will be able to do. It will protect the historic setting of the Cathedral, free up the sacred spaces, provide inspirational interpretation and learning facilities, and be a safe place of hospitality and refuge for those in need. In every respect it will transform the individual experience of being inside the Cathedral.

“Since the reinterment of King Richard III in 2015, our city has benefited from £8m additional income a year thanks to the extraordinary upsurge in cultural tourists. This project has the potential to double that for the city.

“We are delighted and immensely grateful for the significant support we have received from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and from local individuals and organisations. We have now raised £8m and have £3m left to secure. So there is still a job to be done. We will continue to fundraise throughout 2019 and with the help of everyone who believes this project matters to all our communities, we will get there.”

Leicester is one of three English Cathedrals (the others being Worcester and Newcastle) which are to receive a total of more than £8m from the latest round of major grants from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to protect and enhance their faith-based heritage and to extend their cultural and social contribution to their local communities and visitors.

Becky Clark, the Church of England’s Director of Churches and Cathedrals, said: “Creating positive and lasting change for people and communities is a vision The National Lottery Heritage Fund shares with cathedrals, so the news that Leicester, Newcastle and Worcester Cathedrals have all benefitted from this most recent round of funding is tremendous.

“The value of our cathedrals is clear to the 10 million people who visit each year, and to the hundreds of thousands who regularly attend worship.

“All three of the projects funded in this round are focused primarily on increasing welcome, improving access, and providing inspiration.

“The cities and wider communities which Leicester, Newcastle and Worcester serve are at the heart of these projects, and these funding awards highlight the enduring importance and appeal of cathedrals, and their ability to maintain traditions of worship and openness whilst also pioneering new ways of inviting everyone to enjoy all they have to offer.”

Work in Leicester is expected to begin on site in early 2020 and is anticipated to be completed by 2022.

City planners give Leicester Cathedral Revealed building the go ahead
Wednesday 20 January 2019

Leicester City Council has given planning permission to the Cathedral’s plan for a renewal and new build project to create a Heritage Learning Centre beside the main building.

In December 2018, a formal application was lodged with the National Lottery Heritage Fund for a grant towards the £11.3m project cost of the Leicester Cathedral Revealed project.

The project will see the restoration of the Cathedral building together with the creation of the new Heritage Learning Centre on the site of the former Song School, which adjoins the Cathedral and is now used mostly for storage.

Plans for the new two-storey stone building include terracotta and glass features, and have already been approved by the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England and the Leicester Conservation Advisory Panel. Historic England raised some issues with some of the design but did not object to the overall plan, and at Leicester City Council Planning Committee meeting on 19 February, the plans were approved by all the councillors except for one, who abstained.

The Cathedral will now work closely with Historic England and other agencies on details of the new building to address matters of detail.

The Dean of Leicester, The Very Revd David Monteith said: “This project will transform what we will be able to do. The restoration of the building will enhance the spiritual and cultural experience of being in the Cathedral. The Heritage Learning Centre will allow us to protect the historic setting of the Cathedral, while engaging with many more communities through exciting interpretation and learning facilities. It will also help us to cater for the increasing numbers of visitors the City has welcomed since the reburial of King Richard III.”

It is hoped the National Lottery Heritage Fund will approve its full grant of £3.3m this spring and then work can start on this transformational project for our Cathedral, serving the people of Leicester and Leicestershire as well as visitors from further afield.

It is expected that contractors might be on site by early in 2020 and the project will be completed in 2022.

Leicester Cathedral Revealed moves further forward
Monday 7 January 2019

In the last few days Leicester Cathedral has taken two big strides towards delivering its visionary renewal and new build project, Leicester Cathedral Revealed.

Last week a formal application was lodged with the Heritage Lottery Fund for its full grant towards the £11.3m project cost. The money will fund the restoration of the cathedral building together with the creation of a new Heritage Learning Centre, boldly conceived in stone, terracotta and glass, to be built in Cathedral Gardens.

And this week, a planning application for the project was submitted to Leicester City Council and also to the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England.

The Dean of Leicester, The Very Revd David Monteith said: “This project will transform what we will be able to do. The restoration of the building will enhance the spiritual and cultural experience of being in the Cathedral. The Heritage Learning Centre will allow us to protect the historic setting of the Cathedral, while engaging with many more communities through exciting interpretation and learning facilities. It will also help us cater for the increasing numbers of visitors the City has welcomed since the reinterment of King Richard III.”

The decisions on both submissions are expected by spring 2019. If approved, fundraising will continue throughout 2019 and it is expected the contractors will be on site before the end of next year. The Heritage Learning Centre is scheduled for completion by mid-2021 and the restoration of the Cathedral in 2022.

Leicester Cathedral reveals outline plans for new development
Wednesday 6 June 2018

Proposals for the most significant building development of Leicester Cathedral for at least 80 years are being published today and are open for public comment.

A new Heritage Learning Centre, on four levels, two above ground and two below, is planned for one corner of the Cathedral Gardens. In addition, major repairs and renovations to the main building are scheduled to take place. The proposals form part of the £11.3m Leicester Cathedral Revealed project, which has secured the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and is currently in its development stage. They will form the basis of plans to be submitted over the summer to local planners and the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England.

Since the reinterment of King Richard III in March 2015, visitor numbers to Leicester’s Cathedral have jumped ten-fold from 20,000 to over 200,000 a year, making it one of the City and County’s major tourist attractions. An independent assessment conducted by the University of Wolverhampton calculated that the Cathedral currently makes an annual contribution to the local economy of £8.7m. The team calculate that the Leicester Cathedral Revealed project will significantly increase the figure to £15m a year.

The Dean of Leicester, The Very Revd David Monteith said: “Nowadays we welcome very many visitors to our Cathedral, coming for many reasons, both spiritual and otherwise. We want to give every visitor the proper welcome they deserve, and to be able to tell the stories of our city and our faith in ways which are accessible to as many as possible.”

The Revd Pete Hobson, the Cathedral’s Project Director, said: “Our plans are developing well, but there is still a way to travel. Now we would really like to give the public a chance to have their first look and tell us what they think. We’ll be listening carefully to every comment.”

The last major building work at the Cathedral took place in the 1930s when some vestries were added to St Martin’s. Everyone is welcome to come and see the display of plans in the Cathedral. They are on view at all times the Cathedral is open for general visiting, between 9am and 6pm daily from Wednesday 6 June for five days.

Leicester Cathedral contributes nearly £9m a year to local economy
Thursday 12 October 2017

Leicester Cathedral contributes £8.7m annually to the local economy, a figure that is likely to rise to £15m over the next 6 years, as ambitious redevelopment plans for the Cathedral are completed.

The figure is made up of £6m directly related to the Cathedral, and a further £2.7m from the indirect impact of visitors additional spending in the city and beyond. The startling results are part of an independent assessment conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Wolverhampton. It was carried out as part of the Cathedral’s £11.3m redevelopment project Leicester Cathedral Revealed, which gained support from the Heritage Lottery Fund for its development phase earlier this year.

“Leicester Cathedral aspires to be a beating heart for city and county,” said the Dean of Leicester, The Very Revd David Monteith. “We do this in many ways, through prayer and worship, through service to the vulnerable, and as a place of gathering for many. What this report establishes is how much we also contribute in economic terms.”

The research behind the report, which was launched last night (Wednesday 11 October) at an event in the Cathedral, was carried out earlier in the summer. Interviews were conducted with over 1,000 visitors to the Cathedral. The team also carried out research into the local economy, and consulted managers of other local tourist attractions.

Dr Peter Robinson, who led the research survey work said, “’This has been a really interesting project – not just in terms of understanding the economic impact of the Cathedral, which is significant, but also the opportunity to consider the importance of the discovery of King Richard III on the economic development of the City’ ”

The Cathedral received 198,000 visitors in 2016. Slightly under half of the visitors came from beyond the county of Leicestershire, with 1 on 10 coming from overseas. Just under 1 in 3 live in the county and 1 in 4 come from the city itself.

Leicester Cathedral redesign collects national architecture award
22 June 2017

Leicester Cathedral’s King Richard III redesign project, “with Dignity and Honour” has been named as one of the top “best new buildings in the UK”.

The award, made by Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), was given to van Heyningen and Haward Architects and architect Josh McCosh.

The project, which delivered the first stage of the re-ordering of the city’s Cathedral and the new tomb for the remains of King Richard III, is included in a list of 49 notable new buildings in the country. It is a list which includes the Tate Modern’s Blavatnik Building on Bankside in London and the British Airways i360, dubbed as the world’s first “vertical pier”, in Brighton.

“The reinterment of King Richard III in March 2015 was an event of national significance and international interest and continues to bring Leicester Cathedral to the attention of tens of thousands of people every year,” says the Dean of Leicester, The Very Revd David Monteith. “The relationships formed with Josh and his team at vHH were integral to the success of the project. So we are thrilled that this award recognises the excellence of the design and craftsmanship involved. We are now responding to the fresh challenges and opportunities this has brought for our core mission as a place of faith and hope in an increasingly fractured society.”

“The challenge of completing the work within the short timescale allowed was substantial,” says award-winning architect Josh McCosh. “It is testament to the positive teamwork developed with the Cathedral and all involved that the quality of the project is so high, and that it has had such a transformative effect on the Cathedral and the surrounding area. We are delighted that the efforts have been recognised by this National RIBA award.”

Since the reburial of King Richard III, general visitor numbers to the Cathedral have leapt tenfold to over 150,000 a year and it has just been awarded a 2017 Certificate of Excellence, by Trip Advisor, based on the consistently great reviews.

Recently the Cathedral was able to announce an ambitious second stage of its redevelopment. Aided by a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant, its £11.3m Leicester Cathedral Revealed (LCR) project will build on the success of 2015. The Cathedral plans to restore and celebrate the Victorian and Arts and Crafts elements of the building and will also be developing a striking new heritage learning centre on its site.


Leicester Cathedral Revealed wins National Lottery support
Monday 15 May 2017

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has today endorsed the ambitious £11.3m project Leicester Cathedral Revealed with earmarked National Lottery funding of £3.325 million. This includes a development grant of £330,000 to take forward the restoration and renewal plans to restore and renew the Cathedral as an important cultural and faith gathering point in the multi-cultural city of Leicester.

Made possible by National Lottery players, the award will enable the Cathedral, which contains the final resting place of King Richard III, to undertake development work on a transformative project to renew and restore its fabric and to celebrate the Victorian and Arts & Crafts elements of its long history.

It will also shine more light on the two thousand year story of Leicester through the creation of a striking new heritage learning centre and the expansion of an already thriving volunteer and learning programme.

Commenting on the award, the Dean of Leicester, The Very Revd David Monteith, said: “We are delighted the HLF is supporting Leicester Cathedral Revealed. Our Cathedral aspires to be a beating heart to both city and county. These funds will help us tell more of the story of our multi-cultural city through the eyes of its principal church and those who have worshipped here across the years. In particular, we will be able to uncover and share the narrative of the industrial prosperity of the Victorian era and the beautiful workmanship of the Arts and Crafts movement. We look forward to getting started.”

A further £3m has been earmarked by the HLF and a further application will need to be made within two years to release it.

To mark the announcement the Dean will unveil a full-scale visual representation of the project at a short ceremony at 9.30am Monday 15 May in Cathedral Gardens.

Leicester Cathedral Revealed hopeful of HLF support
24 November 2016

Leicester Cathedral’s hopes of receiving a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant towards its £11.3m Leicester Cathedral Revealed (LCR) project remain high after the HLF has encouraged us to reapply at the first opportunity.

It had bid for an initial grant from HLF to support and develop our adventurous plans. This first bid was well received in the autumn funding round when results were announced in late November, but there was strong competition at a national level for these funds, and the project was not able to be supported this time around.

“We believe we have a strong application and have been encouraged by HLF to reapply for funding in the near future,” says Pete Hobson, Project Director of LCR. “We are very pleased with the feedback the autumn bid received, so we intend to turn things round very quickly and resubmit in the hope of securing their support in spring next year,” he said.

Leicester Cathedral Revealed will create a new Heritage Learning Centre. This will house exciting exhibitions which intertwine history and faith in the city across more than a thousand years. It will also allow the Cathedral’s archives and artefacts fully available to the public for the first time and be a venue for learning workshops and community groups. The project will also deliver essential repair work to the aging fabric of the Cathedral and upgrading its infrastructure and facilities.

Leicester Cathedral signals first steps towards £11.3m project
20 September 2016

Leicester Cathedral has submitted an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund in support of its ambitious project Leicester Cathedral Revealed. This project will put the cathedral building back into good order, celebrate its Victorian and Arts & Crafts heritage and create new exhibition, learning and engagement spaces.

The Very Revd David Monteith, Dean of Leicester, said: ‘This is a project that will reorder the Cathedral into a comfortable and inspirational place of worship and mission. It will also restore and celebrate the heritage of the Cathedral site which dates back to the Roman times, although the current building is largely the product of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These were times of great change, helping to shape the city into the socially-conscious, diverse and multi-cultural place it is today. We want to celebrate all of that and to open up the Cathedral’s rich history to even more visitors and pilgrims, from within Leicestershire and from further afield.’

The Cathedral has assembled an impressive team to deliver the project. The architects are Van Heyningen and Haward, and the project director is The Revd Pete Hobson, both repeating their roles on the reinterment of King Richard III. The fundraising board is chaired by Gordon Arthur, former High Sheriff of Leicestershire.

The Cathedral will hear at the end of November whether it has been successful with the Heritage Lottery Fund application and can proceed with developing and finalising its exciting plans.