New structure will be reinstated as gallery and event space

Exeter Cathedral is looking for a contractor with heritage experience to rebuild a cloister gallery demolished nearly 400 years ago during the English Civil War.

The grade I-listed cathedral wants to reinstate the cloister, which was torn down during a period of religious strife in the 1640s, as a gallery and event space.

The £2.3m job, which has been mostly funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, will also see an extension to a 19th century library building on the site designed by Victorian gothic revival architect John Loughborough Pearson.

Exeter Cathedral 2

The new covered cloister will be used as a gallery and event space

Both schemes, designed by Oxfordshire-based conservation architect Acanthus Clews, were given planning approval by Exeter council just before Christmas.

Similar masonry to the existing complex’s Salcombe sandstone will be used, although the East Devon quarries where the stone was sourced by medieval masons over 900 years ago are long closed.

Acanthus Clews director Camilla Finlay said staff are currently scouting quarries around the UK for similar types of stone.

Firms have until 17 February to send in bids for the scheme, with a maximum of six candidates expected to be shortlisted.

The 12 month contract is due to start on 25 July this year.

Construction of Exeter Cathedral began in the early 12th century and was complete by around 1400, although a church existed on the site during Anglo-Saxon times.

The present cathedral contains the world’s longest uninterrupted stone vaulted ceiling, and one of England’s earliest astronomical clocks, installed in the 15th century.