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Britain's Canterbury Cathedral Appeals for $80 Million to Fund Repairs

Canterbury Cathedral has launched an appeal for $80 million to fund major repairs, including restoring crumbling masonry and replacing a leaking roof.
( [email protected] ) Oct 06, 2006 12:02 PM EDT

LONDON (AP) — Canterbury Cathedral has launched an appeal for $80 million to fund major repairs, including restoring crumbling masonry and replacing a leaking roof.

Trustees said Tuesday that the five-year appeal aims to prevent further deterioration to the cathedral, seat of the archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the world's 77 million Anglicans.

"The picture postcard image masks a very different story. A story of deterioration caused by centuries of weathering and modern pollution," chairman Allan Willett said. "Canterbury Cathedral is under serious threat and a threat that is accelerating and growing in size."

John Burton, a surveyor at the cathedral, said the building, which receives more than 1 million visitors a year, "is now deteriorating faster than our conservation program can keep pace with."

"The challenge we now have to save this building is huge," he said. "The building is very complex. It contains many different types of stone and the whole range of architectural styles and structures."

The cathedral was damaged by German bombing during World War II. Parts of the roof have suffered serious structural damage because beams were encased in concrete to stabilize them after the war.

St. Thomas Beckett, the archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered inside the Cathedral in 1170 by four knights after a dispute with King Henry II over the rights and privileges of the church. He was canonized in 1173 and his tomb in the cathedral became a popular pilgrimage site.

The cathedral's dean, the Very Rev. Robert Willis, said some of the money will also be used to improve music and develop the cathedral. About $54 million will be used for repairs.

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