Page last updated at 11:34 GMT, Sunday, 7 February 2010

Mystery donation helps Salisbury Cathedral

Artist's impression of cloister garden - Pic:Upcher and Co
The garth was probably used as a graveyard in the Middle Ages

Work to transform the cloister garden at Salisbury Cathedral in Wiltshire will go ahead thanks to an anonymous donation from Canada.

The cloisters were built in 1266 to show the cathedral's great wealth. Today the garden, also known as a garth, is a working churchyard.

Plans for the space include the raising and levelling of the surface and marker stones being reset in a new grass lawn.

The work begins in March and is expected to be completed by Easter.

'Canadian donor'

Canon Chancellor Edward Probert said: "We have long wanted to carry out this important work on the cloister garth.

"Although we have managed to improve the appearance of the area in recent years we have not had the financial resources for a complete makeover like this.

"We are extremely grateful to our Canadian donor whose generosity will enable us to raise and level the grass area as well as simplify the planting."

Tim Tatton-Brown, archaeologist for the cathedral, said: "We don't know if the garth had a function by the time the cloisters were completed in 1266 or whether it was simply a large and decorative open space, or had a little garden in it.

"The garth was probably used as a graveyard in the Middle Ages but what we do know is that the real change came in the mid-19th Century, after the cloisters were restored, and all burials in The Close became concentrated into the garth.

"Today it is still a working churchyard for the cathedral and treated with great respect by all those who visit."

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