Donations bring cathedral dream closer

A MYSTERY benefactor has stumped up hundreds of thousands of pounds to help fund £1.3million ceiling works at Suffolk's cathedral.

A MYSTERY benefactor has stumped up hundreds of thousands of pounds to help fund £1.3million ceiling works at Suffolk's Cathedral.

Installing a gilded oak vault to St Edmundsbury Cathedral's tower ceiling was once thought to be little more than a pipe-dream because of the sheer cost of such a project.

But those running the cathedral yesterday revealed they had been given “hundreds of thousands of pounds” by an anonymous benefactor, making the works possible in the next two or three years.

Cathedral dean, The Very Rev Neil Collings, was remaining tight-lipped as to the benefactor's identity.

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He said the donation came at an exciting time for the Cathedral as many of the projects including the cloisters come to a conclusion this week.

“We have had an anonymous donation and the process has begun,” he said.

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“It is going to cost far more than we first realised because it is going to be so complex. The cost of the vault has doubled since 2006.”

A further £250,000 has been made available from the Wolfson Foundation and English Heritage for essential restoration work to the 140-year-old nave roof.

The Prince of Wales has given sizeable sums to the cathedral in the past and was patron of the St Edmundsbury Cathedral Millennium Project and County Appeal.

The Millennium Project - which was valued at £12.8million and was funded by grants from the Millennium Commission, the Stephen Dykes Bower Trust and the generosity of many people - was started in 2000.

The works included the completion of the 160ft tower, a new lift, underfloor heating and general improvements to a number of areas within the cathedral grounds.

The tower was completed in 2005 and was celebrated with a visit from the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

Other works, including the North Transept, the Chapel of the Apostles, a crypt chapel and East Cloisters, have all been built, employing traditional materials and methods.

The Cathedral library has been open since June and the cloisters are set to open its doors to the public for the first time tomorrow .

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