Durham Cathedral’s Hidden Treasures Revealed

DURHAM Cathedral’s hidden treasures are to go on display thanks to a £4m funding boost.

The Heritage Lottery Fund is funding a grant towards Durham Cathedral’s £10m Open Treasure project, which will see the creation of new exhibition spaces in buildings around the Cathedral’s medieval cloister.

ICONIC: Durham Cathedral set for new exhibition

ICONIC: Durham Cathedral set for new exhibition

Prized asset’s from the archives are to see the light of day for a rare public outing – including an original issue of the Magna Carta.

The Very Reverend Michael Sadgrove, Dean of Durham, said the Open Treasure project has been waiting to go for the past five years.

“It’s vitally important that we reveal these treasures and display them to the public, we have the most complete surviving monastic library anywhere in England.”

Durham Cathedral is one of the country’s best loved buildings and welcomes more then 600,000 people each year.

Several other grants have also been issued and these figures include £500,000 from the Garfield Weston Foundation, £300,000 from the Friends of Durham Cathedral and a final £130,000 from the Monument Trust. 

The exhibition will fully open next year.

Dr Stephen Cherry, a Canon of Durham Cathedral, said: ”Open Treasure is such a wonderful thing for our Cathedral, and it is sure to bring more visitors to our precious site.

“It is unacceptable to have some remarkable artefacts such as the Magna Carta hidden away in the archives, they simply must be put on display and open treasure is going a long way to ensure this.”

As well as displaying its own collections, the Cathedral will focus on a rolling programme of exhibitions that have been loaned from other museums and art galleries.


HEAD of Marketing and Events at Durham Cathedral, Ruth Robson promoting ‘Open Treasure’

The project is to provide Durham Cathedral with an experience to match its international, cultural and historic value, it will open up both buildings and collections so that they can be discovered and enjoyed by people of all ages.

Because of this development the Cathedral is hoping that visitor numbers will increase, generating additional revenue through ancillary spending and donations. This will go towards the on-going conservation of the architecture and collections, however entry to the building will still remain free.

With Open Treasure, the visitors will be taken on an adventure through a sequence of spaces that tell the story of the Cathedral and its rich and full Christian heritage.

Some of the treasures that will be on display to the public will include an original 1216 issue of the Magna Carta and some of the finest religious stonework created in the 1,000 years after Christ.

Open Treasure is going to transform the way visitors can enjoy the Cathedral and hopefully make them gain inspiration from it.

Durham Cathedral said in a statement:

“We are hugely grateful for everything our donors have contributed to this project.

“Thanks to public bodies, charitable trusts as well as other companies and donors we will raise the £10m needed to complete Open Treasure.

“Open Treasure is more then a capital development project, it is essential to the mission of the Cathedral and its future and we are delighted with the changes that are being made.”

The work on the new exhibition started in 2012 and will be accessible and fully open to the public in 2015.

The Dean of Durham added: ”We have priceless Saxon books and manuscripts, which need to be on display because they tell us so much about early Christianity in the North East.

The Lindisfarne Gospels taught us that there is a real appetite to know more about the great heritage of this religion, we’re trying to go beyond that and create something greater.

“Open Treasure will totally transform how we welcome and offer our visitors hospitality to the Cathedral as well as contribute to the visitors economy of Durham and the wider region.”

Tourists from across the globe have named Durham Cathedral as the UK’s number one landmark.


Niall Hammond from the Heritage Lottery Fund said:

‘There is some amazing pieces including a few amazing bibles that have been hidden away for hundreds of years.

“Before the Cathedral was actually built, there was an Anglo Saxon church on site which contained a lot of beautiful carved stonework.

County Durham is rich in this sense as we have a lot of amazing stonework and we have pieces that date back for thousands of years.

“The new exhibition spaces will allow the Cathedral to display more of its internationally important collection, whereas at  the moment Durham Cathedral lacks both the space and the specialist facilities to do so.”

from Tside