WINNING bidders at an auction in Canterbury tomorrow could walk away with a piece of the city’s medieval cathedral.
Stonework from Canterbury Cathedral’s great south window, some of it 600 years old, has been replaced with new stone during conservation work.
The original pieces of masonry will be auctioned to raise money for future repairs. The sale, of 140 lots, is thought to be the first time that stone from the cathedral has been sold.
After some of the carved masonry fell from the window in 2009, the cathedral authorities realised that extensive repairs would be needed at the huge window, which dates from the 1420s and is almost 17 metres high and eight metres wide.
After centuries of piecemeal repairs, the Dean and Chapter decided that the entire window needed to be remade. A team of 18 masons hand-carved 40 tonnes of French limestone to copy exactly the existing window-setting. The project, which is believed to be the largest stonework programme in Europe, eventually cost £2.25 million.
The auction features stones ranging in size from those that could be used as book-ends to pieces the size of garden furniture. The auctioneers, Canterbury Auction Galleries, have waived their usual fee to support the Dean and Chapter’s efforts to renovate and maintain their historic building.
The head of conservation at the cathedral, Heather Newton, said: “It is very exciting to know that we are about to reach that time when we can see again the stone, which has the appearance of being weightless, and will again let light flood back into the building. The rebuilding has been an incredible experience to be part of. We have learned so much, and we have been able to share that learning with other cathedrals.”