Sir, — I very much enjoyed visiting Canterbury Cathedral recently with my family and was impressed by the presentation of the Cathedral to visitors and the helpfulness of some of the volunteers.
The restoration work being done to the stonework of the Cathedral was quite striking, in terms of the contrast between the old and new fabric of the building.
I happened to ask some workmen on the site what was done with the stones removed for replacement, and was amazed to be told they were sent for “recycling”, which no doubt means pulverising into crushed rock or sand. It seems extraordinary to me that what appears to be the ancient fabric of the most important religious building in the UK is being treated like so much rubbish.
It used to be the lamentable custom of travellers to chip off bits of important building and monuments to take away as souvenirs; while that custom has happily passed away, what better souvenir could there be than a piece of the Cathedral itself?
I said as much to the workmen I spoke to, and they had the impression that it was not thought proper to sell such material. While that argument has a certain logic, I suggest that it is certainly a better option than hauling the stones away as rubbish for “recycling”.
Why not a compromise? Offer pieces of the stone cut to manageable sizes in return for a donation? What better use could be made of the material than that? I can answer my own question: the only better use would be the distribution of such fragments of the “mother church” of the Anglican Communion to other Anglican churches worldwide. And no doubt there are artists in the Church who could use such material to make fittings or decorations for use or sale to help fund the restoration of the Cathedral.
And finally, what better gift could there be for ministers of the Church to take on visits overseas, or to give to visiting Anglican ministers from overseas coming to the UK for official or private visits, conferences, etc.?
I hope that some notice will be taken of this matter by those responsible; even if one ignores all matters of due reverence for such material, better financial use can surely be made of such a “resource”.
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