Newcastle 2020

17th February 2020

Heritage Lottery Fund Work Begins On Newcastle Cathedral

Building work has finally started to transform Newcastle Cathedral, breathe new life into its history and its heritage, and allow people to see the Grade I listed building in a new light.

Illustrations created by schoolchildren from three local schools will be revealed in the next few weeks on the builders’ hoardings around the Cathedral in Cathedral Characters, a community heritage art project that tells the stories of some of the people named in the Cathedrals 17th and 18th century ledger stones.

The illustrations are part of Newcastle Cathedral’s exciting heritage and renewal project Common Ground in Sacred Space made possible by a £4.2m National Heritage Lottery award and topped up by additional funding from the cathedral’s own fundraising and generous supporters, up to a total of around £6m.

The bulk of the funding will pay for physical changes inside and out: the removal of the pews; the installation of underfloor heating; the renewal of the nave floor to create a more open and flexible events space; the landscaping of the south and east churchyards to provide a fitting setting for the building and areas for relaxation and reflection; and the transformation of the basement beneath the Cathedral’s hall to provide new staff, volunteer and visitor facilities.


The project at Newcastle Cathedral also focusses on protecting and conserving the ledger stones – over 130 grave covers belonging to the great, the good, and the not so good of the city, which are currently at risk. It is hoped the project will result in the creation of seven new paid positions and attract over 100 new volunteers in the process.

This is a year of transformation,” said the Dean of Newcastle, the Very Revd Geoff Miller.

This is not just about transforming the building, but transforming us.”

“This award enables us to turn a wonderful historic building into a stunning location and visitor destination, it helps us to see what is under our noses but often overlooked, and it also offers us an opportunity to tell the stories of the diverse and fascinating people of the North in a unique way and bring the city’s history alive.”

Learning and activities officer, Rachael Rickwood worked with the schoolchildren on the ledger stones art project, and local artist, Josie Brookes, and said it had been really exciting to see the children learning about the lives, stories and interests of some of the people remembered in Newcastle Cathedral’s vast ledger stone collection.

“They really enjoyed the creative process of bringing people to life who they couldn’t see. There is no picture of these people so they really had to use what they knew about them for their illustrations.”

The artwork will be supersized into 2m x 3m pieces to be used on the hoardings at the south and east end of the Cathedral while it is closed off for building work and will be interspersed with information panels to help tell the Cathedral’s story.

Common Ground in Sacred Space – Opens Easter 2021 at Newcastle Cathedral.

Newcastle Cathedral Heritage Lottery Funded Project

The Dean is writing a regular blog to record this year of transformation. You can find it on the cathedral’s newly launched website here.