Exeter Cathedral completes five-year conservation project

The last pieces of scaffolding were removed from the front of Exeter Cathedral's West Front this week after five years of conservation work.

The £300,000 project involved cleaning and conserving the stonework and carvings, which date back to the medieval period.

The work was funded by the Exeter Cathedral Preservation Trust, the Friends of Exeter Cathedral, Devon County Council, and cathedral admission fees.

The Dean of the Cathedral, the Very Reverend Jonathan Draper, said the project had been a hugely important one, and part of the Cathedral's essential maintenance.

"Caring for a building of this age, complexity and beauty – and one that is used every day of the year – is a continuing challenge," he said.

"There will always be something to do, some part where age or the weather takes its toll and we will always be on the watch to make sure that catch problems in time.

"Exeter Cathedral does not just belong to the Church, it belongs to the whole community and it is our responsibility and our joy to hand it on to the next generation in good shape."

However, architecture fans should make the most of the unveiled facade while they can as plans are already gathering pace for the next phase of conservation work, due to start next year on St Edmunds Chapel on the North West corner.

The work includes conserving the stone, repairing the glazing and replacing the existing lead roof. The next stage is expected to be finished before the end of 2014.

Clerk of the Works, Damian Lawrence said: "One of our challenges is always to aim to undertake the work in such a way as to minimise any possible disruption that would detract from the visitor experience.

"We always find visitors to the Cathedral are very interested in our ongoing conservation projects and are supportive of our work to maintain such an important and beautiful building."