Durham Castle & Cathedral WHS
March 23, 2022
‘The roof structure of our 12th century Cloister has been propped since 2016 due to critical structural concerns. The underlying reason are gutters and downpipes which are too small for the increased rainfall we are having.’ Maya Polenz, Chief Property Officer, Durham Cathedral
The mediaeval Cloister at Durham Cathedral is suffering due to increased rainfall levels. The roofs of the Nave, the South Aisle and the Western Towers discharge rainfall onto the Cloister’s North range. The historic parapet gutters, downpipes and gullies cannot cope anymore, so water continually ponds during episodes of rainfall and is seeping into the underlying roof structure. This leads to substantial wet rot to the concealed faces of the beams, with the main medieval angle beams at each corner of the Cloister most affected. Emergency propping has been in place since early 2016 due to these critical structural concerns.
As well as being of historic significance, the Cloister is of vital importance for access to and from the Cathedral. It is also part of an important regional habitat for Common Pipistrelle bats, which are seen swarming the Cloister walks in late summer every year. Their ongoing protection would form an integral part of any repair proposals. Durham Cathedral is Grade 1 listed and forms a key element of the Durham World Heritage Site. The present Cloister stems from a rebuilding in the early 15th century which included the timber ceiling. The parapets were extensively repaired in 1829.