Hereford Cathedral are celebrating the completion of their Heritage Fund UK supported Eastern Cloisters Project.

The cathedral received £866,700 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund in 2018 to renovate the cathedral cloisters, which are a home to many of the cathedral staff as well as housing the music department and administrative offices. The project has further enabled this beautiful and tranquil area to be opened up to the public for events and activities by creating a more accessible space and improving the facilities throughout.

As well as improving the lighting within the walkways, the previously uneven paving within the cloister have been re-laid and the roof of the eastern range completely replaced. The Old Chapel has also been transformed into a user friendly space for events and a multimedia historical reimagining experience is available for visitors to experience the history of the Cloisters.

The physical works were accompanied by a programme of activities and research which were led by activity officer Sarah Hollingdale. Ongoing research throughout the project discovered many hidden stories about the Vicars Choral who had originally lived within Cloisters, from an embezzling lay clerk’s disappearance to unknown links to the suffragette movement. This research has then been shared within the cathedral community, and further afield, with a range of events including lectures, a reunion for previous residents and a historical speed dating event on Valentine’s Day.

The Very Revd Michael Tavinor, Dean of Hereford, said: “It brings great joy to us all to see the Eastern Cloisters Project drawing to a close and the hard work of so many people now able to be shared with our community. The Cloisters, although tucked away, are central to our worshipping life here at Hereford Cathedral and hold a special place in the hearts of many.”

Alan Cartwright, Head of Estates for Hereford Cathedral, said: “The Eastern Cloisters Project has seen many challenges, particularly in dealing with the restrictions and difficulties caused by Covid-19 so we are grateful to all those who have worked on the project. We are especially appreciative of our architect Robert Kilgour and principle contractor I J Preece Ltd that these works have been able to completed to such a high standard in such unusual circumstances.”

Sarah Hollingdale, Project Activity Officer for the Eastern Cloisters Project, said: “It has been wonderful to see so many people come together on this project to share and celebrate the heritage of this beautiful area. The works which have now been completed will ensure that the Cloisters are accessible to all. We are leaving a legacy which celebrates the original function of the cloisters; music, community and learning.”

The Eastern Cloisters Project is supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund

With additional support from The HB Allen Charitable Trust, The Jordan Foundation, Noel & Nienke Manns, Allchurches Trust, The Tanner Trust, Howard Bulmer Charitable Trust, The Alfreda May Phillips Charitable Trust, Hereford Cathedral Perpetual Trust and the Trust’s friends from Austin, Texas

Image Credit: Members of the Eastern Cloisters Project Team in the newly renovated cloisters (December 2020)