Feilden Fowles

Feilden Fowles

London, GB


The Fratry Project, Carlisle Cathedral

By Claire Curtice
Feb 10, '17 2:42 PM EST
Image by Forbes Massie
Image by Forbes Massie

Feilden Fowles’ design scheme for the Fratry building at Carlisle Cathedral has been awarded planning consent and has been approved by The Cathedral Fabric Commission for England.

The project received a first round of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to the value of £81,500 in January 2015. An application for a second grant of £1,950,275 towards the total project delivery costs of £3.4 million has now been submitted, with a decision anticipated in March 2017 so that the construction work can be completed by spring 2019.

Work on the Fratry building represents the most significant physical intervention on the Cathedral site for more than 150 years. It supports a project which seeks to transform the teaching and learning activity at the Cathedral, and engage with more people in new ways by “bringing untold stories to life for everyone.”

The Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, Carlisle, is the seat of the Anglican Bishop in Carlisle, Cumbria, North West of England. It was built in 1123 in a Norman architectural style and extended in the 13th and 14th centuries.

Feilden Fowles was appointed in May 2014 following an invited tender by the Cathedral to redevelop and extend the Grade I listed Fratry, which was built in the 1500s as the monastery refectory, and currently houses one of the largest Cathedral collections of 17th – 18th century books in England. The building aspects of the project include: a single- storey, new-build entrance building to the north west of the Fratry, replacing the original West Range of the priory, destroyed during the reformation; the refurbishment of the existing Fratry Hall for interpretation, exhibitions and events; a link structure creating access to the split section; and the refurbishment of the undercroft for teaching and learning activities, where for the first time visitors will be able to enjoy the view through the entire length of the undercroft and see the six vaulted bays. 

The entrance building redefines the cloister space and reintroduces a cloister garden as a reflective space at the heart of the Cathedral precinct. The elevations to the entrance building are derived from the dropped arch on the western gable end of the Fratry, and the refinement of the perpendicular Gothic tracery. The arched forms are combined with a delicate rectilinear frame and fine leading edge to the stonework. The result is a subtle curvature of the two geometries softening the elevations and creating interesting shadow patterns through the day and seasons.

Designed in collaboration with engineers Structure Workshop, the new lightweight, perpendicular Gothic-inspired entrance building will provide a welcoming space where members of the clergy warmly greet visitors and school groups. Visitors will be encouraged to make their approach through a cloister garden designed by landscape architects Petherick, Urquhart and Hunt, and enter the Cathedral through the new fully-accessible, DDA-compliant link building. Services and toilets are located at the rear of the building, concealed from view. The design was subject to a comprehensive public consultation process, with public engagement meetings held in June 2016.

A fundraising campaign for the project has raised £3 million to date. A further £450,000 is being fundraised through a Just Giving Campaign:

The Dean of Carlisle, the Very Revd Mark Boyling, said:

“We’re excited at the thought that this work will bring new life and a new audience to the wonderful stories of history, heritage, hope, faith and love which the Cathedral precinct contains.”

Feilden Fowles said:

“It has been a privilege to work with Carlisle Cathedral on this transformational project which will breathe new life into the precinct and bring access and interpretation to the Grade I listed Fratry building and the fine 17th century library it houses.”