Work has begun to restore and protect Lincoln’s unique 14th century Exchequergate Arch, which frames the walkway leading to the West Front of the Cathedral.
As part of the Lincoln Cathedral Connected project, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, experts from the Connected team and contractor William Birch will undertake re-roofing, repointing and structural repairs to correct settlement cracks. The masonry will also be cleaned and conservation work will be carried out to the stone carvings. This is the first time the Arch has undergone work since the late 1800s.
Scaffolding has now been erected around the Arch and is expected to remain in place until May. A pedestrian route through the Arch will be maintained at all times during the work and the Cathedral will remain open as usual.
In addition to work to Exchequergate Arch, paving, conservation and landscaping works to the Parvis, including the grassed area at the West Front of the Cathedral, have begun. This will create a more welcoming and accessible space in front of the Cathedral for visitors to enjoy and allow step-free access into the building.
To enable these works, Minster Yard will, during the summer, be temporarily closed to traffic, with restricted pedestrian access around the area, and parking will be temporarily suspended along the south side of the Cathedral. Neither Priory Gate nor Pottergate will be affected by works.
The Revd Canon John Patrick, Subdean of Lincoln, said: “Exchequergate Arch is what greets Cathedral visitors who enter from the Bailgate, acting as a majestic entrance to the Cathedral grounds, welcoming people to walk through and see the Cathedral in its glory.
“These works will preserve and protect the beautiful and unique Arch as well as the surrounding grounds for generations to come, which will help us to attract more visitors and in turn help us to continue to maintain the Cathedral.
“Our conservationists have already been doing fantastic work on the West Front of the Cathedral, so we can’t wait for the public to see the newly restored Exchequergate Arch when the scaffolding comes down.”
Exchequergate Arch is what remains from two gatehouses – a west gatehouse which was later demolished circa 1796, and the surviving east gatehouse – originally constructed during King Edward I’s reign to protect the precinct surrounding the church of St Mary Magdalene.
The gatehouses were designed to house four small shops in the ground floor of its bastions. Entrances to the shops were through doorways at the east end of the posterns, of which all but the most southerly doorways remain in use. Each shop had a pair of windows, which are now infilled, and access to the upper floors was via spiral staircases made from stone.
Exchequergate Arch is the only triple-arched gateway leading into cathedral grounds in the country and possibly the only one in Europe. Although a gatehouse which incorporated small shops was a common feature during the Medieval period, Exchequergate Arch remains the only surviving such example in the UK.