Twentieth Century and Major Repair
The traumas that befell Europe in the first half of the century, with two World Wars bracketing a Great Depression, meant that there were few changes to the Cathedral until the gradual growth of prosperity from the mid-century. Serious worries about the stability of the structure led in 1950 to the rebuilding of the top of the spire, and in 1985 the Spire Appeal initiated the Major Repair Programme, which ever since then has been systematically conserving the exterior fabric of the Cathedral. You can see our masons at work when you book a behind the scenes Stonemasonry Works Yard Tour.
Within the Cathedral there have continued to be alterations which reflect changing tastes and needs. Scott’s Victorian Gothic vision lost favour, and after 1960 his Quire screen and reredos were removed, and his patterned floors were replaced with plain stone, while underfloor heating was put in. The consequence was, for the first time in its history, a completely clear view down the length of the Cathedral, and this created dramatic possibilities seized when the Prisoners of Conscience window was installed in 1980. The early 1990s saw the creation of a girls’ choir, the first at any Cathedral; they now take an equal share with the boys’ choir in the worship.
In 1970 the ancient Muniment Room was turned into the Song School, and the medieval chests were moved to the north Quire aisle. Much larger numbers of visitors than at any earlier stage have come here in recent decades, and the Cathedral has made provision to welcome them, with refreshments, information, a shop, toilets, and an education centre.