Durham Cathedral has auctioned off 85 pieces of their building’s masonry this Saturday. In the first auction of its kind, bidders spent £62,891 on the stones, which was match-funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to earn the Cathedral £125,782 in total.
“It was the first time people could get hold of the stones, and we earnt more than we expected”, Kate Pawley told Palatinate on behalf of the Cathedral. Auctioneers expected the items to sell as historical novelties, reportedly to be used as bookends and garden features.
Since renovations were completed this year, building work conducted on the central tower and bell tower rendered several pieces of stonework no longer necessary. All 85 pieces were sold, with some larger stones over 5 metres long, and the most expensive selling for £4,200.
The money raised is being contributed towards the Cathedral’s Foundation 2020 Campaign. This seeks to raise enough money by 2020 for the maintenance of the cathedral stones “forever”, according to Pawley. In the close future, Pawley suggested this would mean restoration work commencing on the cloister, which in the past has been used as a filming location for Harry Potter and is where Durham students traditionally queue before matriculation.
From the perspective of the auctioneers, Julian Thompson, from Anderson and Garland auctioneers, said “The auction was jam-packed and I would describe the bidding as frenzied”.
But some members of the University’s History Department felt it could have been a more exciting sale, with one professor keen to point out “They’re not selling the old bits, just the Victorian additions [of 1858]”.
Image by Zoë Boothby