Surrey

Guildford Cathedral at risk of closure

Guildford Cathedral Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The cathedral needs to raise £1.3m in order for the Heritage Lottery Fund to give it £4.5m for improvement work

Guildford Cathedral could close if it fails to raise enough money for improvement works and repairs, a spokeswoman has said.

The Times has reported the cathedral may be the first to close since World War Two because of asbestos problems.

The cathedral needs to raise £1.3m by August in order to secure a £4.5m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Its dean, the Very Reverend Dianna Gwilliams, said just over £1m had been raised.

On the cathedral's website, is says it is "at serious risk of closure" due to the deterioration of the plaster on the ceiling vaults.

It says it needs to raise £7m to save the building, and "equip it to meet the challenges of the 21st Century", including improving disabled access, installing new lighting and a sound system, and making its archive materials more easily available to the public.

Dean Gwilliams appealed for donations and said the cathedral would remain open during the repair work, which it hopes will start in August 2015.

Image copyright David Green, Diocese of Guildford
Image caption Dean Gwilliams said plaster bound by asbestos had to be removed "in an expensive way"

Dean Gwilliams said: "My office is in the cathedral and we have regular air monitoring and we've done that for decades in an asbestos management plan.

"There are absolutely no health hazards at all."

The cathedral, which featured in the 1976 horror film The Omen, attracts 90,000 visitors a year,

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