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EDITIONS
Sunday, 3 November, 2002, 13:32 GMT
Camera plan to secure cathedral
Lincoln Cathedral
Cathedral authorities are considering secuity options
Closed circuit television cameras may be used to protect Lincoln Cathedral from vandals.

Church authorities are considering the step as they continue to count the cost of an arson attack earlier this year.

Along with repairing the initial damage, upgraded security for the medieval building could cost as much as 200,000.

A new fire detection system may also be installed.


Cathedrals and churches are seen as a soft touch by vandals and thieves

Roy Bentham, Lincoln Cathedral chief executive

But cathedral leaders say they will resist any moves to restrict public entry to the building.

The arson attack took place in February when several large prayer candles were placed on the chapel floor, setting fire to an altar cloth and damaging the oak and limestone altar beneath.

Vergers who discovered the incident managed to dampen the flames before firefighters arrived.

Chief executive of Lincoln Cathedral Roy Bentham said: "The damage wasn't as bad as first thought.

"It totalled about 3,000. We have taken remedial work and are debating whether to replace the altar.

"It is discoloured but the dean takes the view it is part of the cathedral's history."

The attack was the latest in a string or deliberate fires at cathedrals, the worst being at Peterborough in November 2001.

Mr Bentham added: "Peterborough scared us a lot. The idea that someone would want to set fire to one of the great medieval cathedrals is beyond us, but that is the reality of it.

Lincoln Cathedral's damaged chapel
Candles set alight the altar cloth

"These buildings are difficult to maintain without added problems but we now live in a society where people will set fire to churches.

"Cathedrals and churches are seen as a soft touch by vandals and thieves.

"We now have to decide how to cope with it."

After consultation with the cathedral architect and fire service, a new fire alarm system is being considered.

Mr Bentham said: "The problem is the fire detection system in most cathedrals are aimed at dealing with accidental fire.

"These are aimed at the wooden roof where most accidental fires start.

"Now we have to face the reality of deliberate fires started at ground level. We have been told these new systems could cost as much as 200,000.

Restricted access

"There is also the prospect of installing security cameras probably at the West Front. This will give us the chance of being alerted to potential trouble."

The cathedral costs an estimated 50,000 a week to maintain, a constant battle highlighted this week when engineers were called in to look at cracks in the nave's roof.

But Mr Bentham said one area of cathedral life will not be compromised: "What we don't want to do is restrict access to the general public.

"One of the great things about cathedrals and churches is people can come in without being challenged and be anonymous if they wish.

"It would be dreadful if we where to have guards on the door and we have no intention of doing that."


Click here to go to Lincolnshire
See also:

13 Feb 02 | England
23 Nov 01 | England
07 Sep 01 | UK
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