Chichester’s bell tower added to heritage ‘at risk’ list

The bell tower outside Chichester Cathedral has had netting around it since the 1990s to protect people from falling debris. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-161019-125344008

The bell tower outside Chichester Cathedral has had netting around it since the 1990s to protect people from falling debris. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-161019-125344008

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Chichester Cathedral’s historic bell tower is crumbling so badly that it has been placed on Heritage England’s ‘at risk’ register, published today.

The external stonework of the 15th century tower is now degrading at such a rate that it is deemed a risk by the national charity, which manages 400 of the UK’s most esteemed treasures.

Chichester Cathedral has welcomed the news, and estimate it will cost �5m to full restore the historic structure. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-161019-125435008

Chichester Cathedral has welcomed the news, and estimate it will cost �5m to full restore the historic structure. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-161019-125435008

The cathedral has welcomed the Grade I listed bell tower being placed on the Risk Register 2016, having raised its condition with Heritage England.

A cathedral spokeswoman said: “The bell tower is a significant historic feature in the city and is of national importance as a rare example of a medieval free standing bell tower.

“The building is structurally safe but the stonework is deteriorating over time, consequently netting was added in the 1990s to catch any loose falling stonework.”

As well as rapidly degrading external stonework, there are also said to be cracks in the tower, caused by structural movement in the buttresses.

The spokeswoman added: “We are committed to developing plans to conserve and develop the bell tower for future use and estimate at this stage that the repair of the stonework will cost in the region of £5million.”

Up to 28 historic landmarks in the South East are due to be added to Historic England’s Heritage At Risk Register 2016, published today, Friday, October 21.

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