Norwich Cathedral’s weathercock restored
Norwich Cathedral’s golden weathercock shines brightly once more from on high after being regilded and reinstalled on the top of the spire.
Father and son team Chris and Sam Milford, from the historic building conservation specialists WallWalkers, scaled the 96m (315ft) spire on Thursday 17 September to put the weathercock back in place on the highest point of the Cathedral.
Norwich Cathedral’s Canon Precentor, the Revd Canon Aidan Platten, said it was wonderful to see the newly-regilded weathercock glistening on the top of the Cathedral spire that can be seen for miles around.
He said: “The spire of Norwich Cathedral can be seen from as far out of Norwich as the Southern Bypass and the newly-gilded weathercock will draw the eye back to the city’s spiritual heart, where faith, hope and love have been celebrated for nearly a millennium.
“Regilding the weathercock, particularly in these difficult and gloomy times, is a reminder to us of the hope that the presence of Norwich Cathedral has always sought to share. Pointing heavenward from the Wensum valley, the spire draws the eye and hearts of us all upwards to a beacon of light and hope on every new morning.”
The work on the weathercock is part of a wider restoration project, and in recent weeks, members of the WallWalkers team have been causing quite a stir as they could be seen climbing up the spire via a special rope system to carry out the work to ensure the spire remains in good condition long into the future.
The weathercock was taken down on Monday 24 August, and it was thought to be the first time since 1963 that it had been brought down to the ground.
Previous records suggested that the weathercock has crowned the spire since at least 1756, when the top part of the spire was rebuilt by John Parsons. However, on the weathercock’s recent trip back to ground level, the discovery of a 1668 date-mark on the metalwork suggests it is actually older than first thought.
While doing the regilding work with gold leaf back at their Bristol base, the WallWalkers team were careful to ensure that the 1668 date-mark, and all the other textures and marks from times gone by, could still be seen through the weathercock’s shiny new coat.
Chris Milford said: “These textures and marks on the weathercock are all part of its story and they give a real sense of its history. We wanted to ensure they were all still there for future generations to see.
It is a real privilege for the WallWalkers to be involved in the latest layer of the story of Norwich Cathedral’s weathercock and to help preserve it for long into the future.”
The WallWalkers were also delighted to meet 86-year-old Bob James who was part of the previous team to work on the weathercock back in the 1960s. Mr James had been an engineer for historic restorers W. S. Lusher who worked on the last major restoration, overseen by architect Bernard Feilden. The meeting was organised thanks to the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News, and Mr James and his wife Ethel enjoyed watching the WallWalkers return the weathercock to the spire from the Cathedral Cloisters on Thursday.
The weathercock is 83cm (2ft 9ins) high and the height of the Cathedral spire excluding the weathercock is 95.36m (312ft 10? ins).
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 but was later blown down in a storm of 1361-2. The next spire 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.
Part of the latest restoration work on the spire has been generously funded by the Friends of Norwich Cathedral.
Pictured: the WallWalkers team reinstalling Norwich Cathedral’s regilded weathercock on the top of the spire