A £100,000 project has been launched to preserve medieval carvings of national significance in Ripon - including one said to have inspired Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.
Years of dust and general wear and tear have taken their toll on Ripon Cathedral's 70 oak angels that reside in the quire, and work will be carried out to preserve them for future generations to admire.
One angel was damaged when it fell directly from above the stalls where the Cathedral's lay clerks sit, and will need to be replaced while the rest are cleaned.
In addition to this, the misericords (the tiny seats with ornate engravings underneath which the choir and clergy sit on), also need to be mended. One such carving - in the Mayor’s stall – is said to have inspired Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Carroll’s father was a canon at Ripon Cathedral, and the carving depicts a rabbit going down the rabbit hole.
The Cathedral has already received two major grants from the Headley Trust (£35,000) and the Charles & Elsie Sykes Trust (£55,000) for the Fallen Angels project, which has enabled trials to start for the work this month, with the main work scheduled to take place in autumn.
Ripon Cathedral’s Director of Operations, Julia Barker, said: “The carvings are so significant - we need to take care of them properly. This work will enable us to discover a lot more about them and how we can look after them so that they can be enjoyed by future generations.”
The Dean of Ripon, the Very Rev John Dobson, said: “I am very grateful to those who have provided the funds to make this crucial conservation project possible. Angels often attract interest. Recently it was revealed that even some atheists believe in angels.
"Angels are actually God’s messengers, as Mary and Joseph both knew well from the time of Jesus’ birth. This project might just prompt us to consider what God is asking his angels to communicate to our society today.”
Click here to support the Fallen Angels project's appeal.