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Unusual Facts and Figures

The Cathedral flooded in 1915

(Full size pictures are in the Unusual Facts & Figures gallery)

Not all of the information about the Cathedral is in the guide books, for instance;


This small stone-carved fleur-de-lys (it is only 4” high) was found when the plaster was

removed from its surface in the north cloisters. It has been covered again for posterity

and ready to be found when work is next done in, perhaps, another 750 years’ time.                                             


In December 1902 the lightning conductor system was replaced, according to the

“Sunday Companion” who reported it in January of the following year “Fourteen

ladders were required to reach the top and only three hours were occupied in fixing

them. The journey up the ladders when completed took twenty minutes”. The picture

shows workmen on the scaffold that was erected from the ladders. The band that

reaches from the earth plate to the top was all in one piece and

Messers Frankland, Phillips & Co reported having “…had some difficulty in obtaining it”.

At the same time they replaced the corroding iron bands put in place to strengthen

the spire; the bottom one measures nearly 100’ and the top one  of the seven bands is

38’ in circumference.

In 1921 the weather vane was removed from the top of the spire and replaced with a cross. The cross you can see on top of the spire today was made in 1950 and is 12’ high. It is made of copper with brass finials protruding from each point of the cross. (Picture kindly sent by Mr Paul Clark).

The main Cathedral was built in just 38 years using 60,000 tons of Chilmark Stone and 10,000 tons of Purbeck Stone, 2,641 tons of oak and 420 tons of lead. When the spire was added in the early/mid 1300s it added a further 6,500 tons.


When it was first built there were 365 windows in the building and 8760 marble pillars; whereas it’s obvious that the windows equate to the number of days in a year, 8760 is also the number of hours in a year.     


In 2010, while working on the Hyde memorial (which is located in the south nave aisle) one of our Conservators found this inscription on the wall behind it.

This picture shows the text digitally enhanced, but it’s not something that anyone has yet recognised.


One of the most asked questions about the structure of the Cathedral is “Is it true the Cathedral’s foundations are only 4’ deep?”


The answer is yes, that is true, however, it also then stands on a gravel and weathered chalk bed that is 27’ deep, which in turn is on 43’ of medium hard chalk!

The Apprentice Mason measures the water level underneath the building each week and notes it, the Cathedral has only flooded once, in 1915 as pictured at the top of this page