The lighthouse and the sea at Orford Ness

Funding for Exeter Cathedral 


Plans to transform opportunities for education and research at Exeter Cathedral, at Exeter Cathedral received a boost today, thanks to a first-round pass* award from the HLF. 

Through the proposed project new learning spaces will be created in the Bishops palace so that more people can explore the historic library. There will also be a new space for music development and participation.

This first-round pass award includes development funding of £45,800 to support Exeter Cathedral in developing their plans. Exeter Cathedral can progress to the second stage of the HLF application process, where they will be seeking £562,600 of HLF support towards the £900,000 project.

If successful, the money would be used to create a research and exhibitions space within the Bishop’s Place, giving more people the chance to access and view the library collection. At the same time, a previous archive in the cathedral’s Pearson Building into a brand new facility for school groups.

Simon Timms, Chair of Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said: "Exeter Cathedral is at the heart of the city’s heritage. Through opening up the cathedral’s library and learning spaces more people will be able to explore the fascinating history of the cathedral, the city and the local area. There is still work for the Cathedral to do, but HLF will be offering their full support in taking their application further."

A building has been present on the site of Exeter Cathedral for almost 1,000 years and it is one of the oldest Cathedrals in England, with a proud choral tradition which stretches back over 900 years.

The Cathedral library is the oldest surviving library in Devon - founded by Leofric, the first Bishop of Exeter (1050-1072) - and its contents have been catalogued since at least 1327. Some of the key volumes in the collection are 'The Exeter Book' copied around 965-975AD written in Anglo-Saxon, which is an anthology of poetry, including riddles and 'The Exon Domesday', which is the only extant regional copy of William the Conqueror's 1086 survey.

The library also has a diverse collection of early medical and scientific material, including that of Thomas Glass (1709-1786) a noted Exeter physician.

Notes to editors

*A first-round pass means the project meets our criteria for funding and we believe it has potential to deliver high-quality benefits and value for Lottery money. The application was in competition with other supportable projects, so a first-round pass is an endorsement of outline proposals. Having been awarded a first-round pass, the project now has up to two years to submit fully developed proposals to compete for a firm award.

On occasion an applicant with a first-round pass will also be awarded development funding towards the development of their scheme.

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported 33,900 projects, allocating £4.4billion across the UK.

For further information

Roland Smith, HLF Press Office on 020 7591 6047 / 07713 48 64 20 or

Exeter Cathedral library  
Simon Timms, Chair of Heritage Lottery Fund South West with Jonathan Meyrick, Dean of Exeter Cathedral