Restoration work on the spire

03 August 2020
Norwich Cathedral’s centuries-old spire and the golden weathercock that sits at the top will be undergoing some specialist restoration work this summer. At 315ft (96m) high, the soaring spire is the second tallest in the country after Salisbury Cathedral, and conservation experts WallWalkers have the incredible task of climbing the spire to complete the work.
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This week father and son team Chris and Sam Milford scaled the spire to assess the work that needs to be done and constructed a special rope system to access the outside of the spire ahead of the main part of the restoration project beginning later this month.

Photographer Bill Smith captured on camera some of the action on the spire meanwhile the WallWalkers duo shared some amazing photos of their view from the top!

WallWalkers view from the top of the spire (c) WallWalkers August 2020 (6)
Talking about the restoration project as a whole, the Revd Dr Peter Doll, Canon Librarian and Vice-Dean at Norwich Cathedral, said: “Restoration work will be taking place on Norwich Cathedral’s spire throughout the summer.
This will be the first repair project on the upper parts of the spire for about 40 years.
WallWalkers, who are specialists in historic building conservation, repair and maintenance, will be repointing open joints on the spire and re-gilding the cockerel weathervane.
To prepare for this work they have been setting up a specialist rope system which they will use to access the spire throughout the project instead of scaffolding.”

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WallWalkers view from the top of the spire (c) WallWalkers August 2020 (4)
WallWalkers view from the top of the spire (c) WallWalkers August 2020 (5)
WallWalkers view from the top of the spire (c) WallWalkers August 2020 (7)
WallWalkers view from the top of the spire (c) WallWalkers August 2020 (8)
WallWalkers view from the top of the spire (c) WallWalkers August 2020 (3)
WallWalkers view from the top of the spire (c) WallWalkers August 2020 (9)
WallWalkers view from the top of the spire (c) WallWalkers August 2020 (10)
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WallWalkers view from the top of the spire (c) WallWalkers August 2020 (4)
WallWalkers view from the top of the spire (c) WallWalkers August 2020 (5)
WallWalkers view from the top of the spire (c) WallWalkers August 2020 (7)
WallWalkers view from the top of the spire (c) WallWalkers August 2020 (8)
WallWalkers view from the top of the spire (c) WallWalkers August 2020 (3)
WallWalkers view from the top of the spire (c) WallWalkers August 2020 (9)
WallWalkers view from the top of the spire (c) WallWalkers August 2020 (10)
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The spire that today rises high above our fine city’s skyline is actually Norwich Cathedral’s third documented spire.

The first known spire was completed in 1297 and was a timber frame with lead covering, but this was later blown down in in a storm of 1361-2. The next spire, also made of timber, was burnt in a fire in 1463 caused by lightning.

The current spire, which is constructed of a brick cone with stone facing, was thought to have been designed by Robert Everard and built later in the 15th century. Records suggest it may have been completed in 1485 and that the pine internal framing was replaced in 1772-3.

Over the centuries there have been numerous repair projects to keep the spire standing. The last major restoration of the stone spire was in the early 1960s and the project was overseen by architect Bernard Feilden.

Excluding the weathercock, the height of today’s spire is 95.36m (312’ 10⅓”).

The weathercock at the top dates from 1756 when the top part of the spire was rebuilt by John Parsons.