A SCULPTURE of monks bearing the coffin of St Cuthbert is to be moved from the centre of Durham because late-night drunks have vomited and urinated over it. The city’s planners have agreed that The Journey, by the artist Fenwick Lawson, should be resited at Durham Cathedral, where the saint is buried.
The bronze, depicting the tenth-century flight by the Lindisfarne community from marauding Vikings, was unveiled by the Princess Royal in Millennium Place in 2008, as part of plans to create a cultural quarter. But the area is now more popular for its clubs and pubs, and the artwork has become a victim of anti-social behaviour.
Mary Hawgood, who chairs the Journey Trustees, who raised its £250,000 cost through public subscriptions, told Durham County Council’s planning committee last week: “We were assured that Millennium Place was to become the cultural quarter for the city; instead, it has become the late-night haunt of drunkards, who have desecrated the sculpture.”
The move was supported by a 202-signature petition, but it was matched by another with 293 names, claiming that it would be more accessible to the public in Millennium Place.
Cathedral wins planning bid
DURHAM CATHEDRAL has won planning consent to build four houses opposite the cathedral, despite objections from some of the city’s residents and the co-ordinator of the World Heritage Site (WHS) that includes the cathedral.
The Chapter has been given permission to build four executive houses on land on the opposite bank of the River Wear to the cathedral and the neighbouring Durham Castle. The site, off the medieval cobbled street of Pimlico, is occupied by community garages and picturesque gardens. It is also popular with tourists for its spectacular view of the heritage site.
In a letter to Durham County Council planners, Jane Gibson, the Durham WHS co-ordinator, said that the four-bedroom homes would have a “negative impact” on the WHS setting, and could affect plans to expand its boundary to include woodland near by. She wrote that she had “little alternative” but to object.
The secretary of the City of Durham Trust, Dr Douglas Pocock, wrote: “The trustees would urge the authority not to reverse what was, and is, an excellent — and generous — piece of social town planning. . . This is no ordinary site.”
A neighbouring resident, the cosmologist Professor Carlos Frenk, complained of increased traffic and parking problems, and Brian Cheesman, a retired university librarian who has rented a garage and adjoining garden from the cathedral since 1978, said: “It’s a complete reversal of the cathedral’s charitable action of nearly 50 years ago, when it provided the garages for the street, which has hardly any.”
But John Holmes, the cathedral’s head of property, said: “This scheme has been carefully designed, and we now look forward to being able to improve this area, where the unsightly garages have attracted crime and anti-social behaviour in recent years.
“The income that this project will generate in due course will go some way to allowing us to maintain the historic fabric of our wonderful cathedral, which costs £12 a minute to keep open, and which continues to be a place of pilgrimage, worship, and attraction to visitors from across the globe and closer to home . . . The project will also continue the work that the cathedral has undertaken to improve the woodland and riverbanks.”