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St Magnus Cathedral unveils new vestibule woodwork

St Magnus Cathedral’s new vestibule woodwork has been unveiled.

St Magnus Cathedral was recently named in Europe’s top 100 Cathedrals — and while it may be hard to believe, one of Orkney’s most revered historical treasures just became a little bit more magnificent.

This is according to Orkney Islands Council (OIC), which has shared a first glimpse of the upgrade to the 900-year-old building this Wednesday afternoon.

After months of labour, the temporary screen inside the main entrance is now down, revealing the new wooden vestibule. Although folk must still enter via the south nave side door, once inside the cathedral, everyone will be able to enjoy the new glazed timber vestibule.

Meredith Macbeth, St Magnus Cathedral’s historical buildings conservator, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the work so far and the new vestibule truly enhances the entryway of this wonderful building. The works are not entirely complete as the curved glass has been delayed by the supplier in Europe due to COVID, Brexit and other supply issues, but we are expecting it early 2022. So for now the area will remain roped off from the public, but it is a delight to see the new vestibule settling in and the excited response by those who know the building so well.”

Councillor Gwenda Shearer, chairwoman of OIC’s education, leisure and housing committee, said: “The cathedral really is the gift that keeps on giving to the people of Orkney and further afield.

“What a beautiful addition to what is a very special building. I look forward to seeing the complete, finished product which is sure to be absolutely stunning.”

Elaine Grieve from the Society of the Friends of St Magnus Cathedral, who are making a substantial contribution to the costs of the work, said: “The Cathedral is so precious that it is hard to contemplate making any changes for fear they won’t do the building justice.

“However, in this case, what an absolutely wonderful transformation the vestibule has made to the entrance of the building. The craftmanship is outstanding and we now have an addition which befits this treasured building loved by so many near and far.”

The cathedral’s stonework also enjoyed a facelift recently.

Conservation works included repointing stonework with lime mortar on the interior and exterior of the west door. Samples of original lime mortars were found deep in the constructions joints of the building and were analysed by the Scottish Lime Centre in Fife. An appropriate mix was specified, to match in manner of strength, colour and aggregate size.

For anyone wishing to visit there are signs directly through the side gate, please be mindful of the restrictions in place in regards to the pandemic such as the wearing of masks and social distancing while inside.

St Magnus Cathedral is managed by OIC on behalf of the people of Orkney. Casey Construction Ltd. was awarded the contract to carry out the essential maintenance work and improvements.