top of page
  • aidanprince

Final stone is laid, in the restoration of the Durham Cathedral's Monks' Garden Wall

A two year restoration project has come to an end as the final brick has been placed in the restoration of the Monks’ Garden Wall at Durham Cathedral.

The final stone was put in place on Tuesday 13 February by Durham Cathedral stonemason's Graham Penfold and Grace Impesi, the last of over 200 newly cut and reclaimed stones which have been placed as part of the extensive conservation work.

The conservation work began in 2022, after a survey was carried out and it became clear that some stones within the wall were either missing, damaged, or had a crack or void behind them. Scaffolding went up on the East wall of the cathedral shortly afterwards and after two years of covering the majority of one side of the cathedral, is due to come down this week, from 26 February.

"We’re delighted that scaffolding is finally being taken away and that visitors will once again be able to fully access the Monks’ Garden. This project has been a huge undertaking for the cathedral and the talent, determination and hard work by our stonemasons, despite numerous challenges along the way, means that the project will be complete for the spring allowing people to enjoy the space for picnics, fresh air and views across the River Wear."

The majority of the work has been carried out by Durham Cathedral’s team of skilled stonemasons. Durham Cathedral has a team of eight committed and skilled in-house stonemasons, including four apprentices. The expert team have removed stones in bad condition and carved new stones to make them the right shape and size, before securing them into the wall with lime mortar.

Once started there was unforeseen work and added complexities to the repairs which caused unexpected delays and meant that the project was extended. The work also relied on the expertise of a conservation structural engineer, close liaison with the cathedral’s Fabric Advisory Committee and consideration of listed building consent, which all added to the extended duration of the process.

Gary Holliday, Stonemason Supervisor said:

“Although it has been a challenging and lengthy process, working in all weather, the most satisfying parts of the project have been in the workshop cutting stones to our templates. Once we completed these we carefully moved them on to the site and fixed them in place. This process is the most satisfying for our team, seeing all the hard work coming to fruition.”

The Monks’ Garden Wall, which was originally part of an open area that became enclosed when the Galilee Chapel was built in the 12th century, was used by novice monks in their leisure time, and after the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century, the bowling green became a garden for the clergy.

Until recent years, the garden remained private and enclosed, however today, the garden is open to the public and when scaffolding is removed and a new handrail installed, will once again be a great space for visitors to enjoy picnics during sunny weather.

To find out more about the Monks’ Garden Wall restoration project visit 


bottom of page