Wednesday, February 29, 2012

£1m revamp of historic Belfast cathedral planned for 2013

A million pound restoration and regeneration project for St Columb's Church of Ireland Cathedral was unveiled recently.

This major piece of work will centre on the deanery, deanery yard and stable block of the Londonderry church.

It will restore the basement of the deanery with its largely intact period kitchens and pantries, plus further develop the music rooms dedicated to famous hymn writer CF Alexander.

Rev Dr William Morton, Dean of St Columb's, presented the plans to the Department of the Environment minister Alex Attwood.

The cathedral will be a venue for major events during the 2013 City of Culture year.

The Dean and vestry is initiating its own programme of tourism events, including a joint programme with the Walled City Cluster.

“The priority for 2013 would be the deanery and No 1 St Columb’s Court,” Rev Dr Morton said. “With modest investment, elements of this project could be taken forward to significantly improve the visitor experience of the UK City of Culture in 2013. It will help complete the development of the Walled City as a signature tourism destination for Northern Ireland. These historic buildings, opening directly on to the City Walls and onto the southern entrance to the Walled City at Bishop's Gate, lend themselves to housing major exhibitions on the story of the City Walls and on the Earl Bishop."

“The deanery basement will provide a unique opportunity to experience what life was like ‘beneath the stairs’ in Georgian Derry. The full regeneration of the Cathedral precinct will have a catalytic effect, promoting the regeneration of the historic, but still neglected, area which makes up the southern quadrants of the Walled City around Bishop's Gate, radically improving the experience for visitors and for the |communities who live and work here.” 


St Columb’s Cathedral was built on the site of a native Christian church on the highest point of the ancient hill of Derry and was designed both as the mother church and as the citadel for the Plantation Walled City of Derry. 

The cathedral will be a focal point for the UK City of Culture programme.