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A treasure of architecture that's studded with gems; In the running for architecture's most prestigious award for its Open Treasure project, here are some fun facts about the North East's building of the year.

MORE than 750,000 people from around the world visit Durham Cathedral every year to view the incredible architecture.

The Grade I-listed landmark has been picking up regional and national accolades for its PS10.9m Open Treasure project from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), with it now in the running for a Stirling Prize - architecture's most prestigious award.

You might well be familiar with the cathedral's incredible stained glass Rose Window or the Galilee Chapel, and you may have seen it providing the backdrop for movies such as Elizabeth and Avengers: Infinity War. But here are some facts you might not know about the North East's building of the year.

1 An 11th Century staircase was recently discovered during excavations as part of the Open Treasure building works. The staircase does not feature on any of the cathedral's plans and it was a surprise for staff when it was uncovered.

2 One of the chevron columns is known as the apprentice column. This is due to the design being slightly different from that of the other chevrons due to a mistake that's Turn to Page 28 From Page 27 been attributed to an apprentice. Although others have argued all churches have an architectural flaw as only God is capable of being perfect.

3 The Chapel of the Nine Altars houses only three altars. The original altars were removed during the Reformation and have since been rededicated.

The names of the Pre-Reformation altars are embroidered into the kneelers within the Chapel.

4 The pearls featured on St Margaret's altar cloth were originally used to decorate Queen Elizabeth II's wedding dress.

After her wedding to Prince Philip in 1947 some of the pearls were donated to the Cathedral and their incredible borderers created a beautiful, heartshaped design with them.

5 The cathedral's precincts extend to the woodlands along the River Wear's banks.

They are open to the public but the Cathedral regularly organises tours there, to reveal its own fascinating history to tourists and locals alike.

6 The choir screen was completed in the 1870s and features scallop shells in the design.

Scallop shells are a common symbol of pilgrimage and positioned next to a marble St Cuthbert's cross they are a reminder the Cathedral has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries due to it being the saint's final resting place.

7 Many of the Cathedral's pillars are made from Frosterley Marble. This stone is in fact a kind of limestone and if you look closely you can see fossils embedded in the pillars.

8 The Great Kitchen at Durham Cathedral was built in the 14th Century to feed the monastic Benedictine community there.

It was a working kitchen until the 1940s and since then it has been an archive store, a bookshop and now it is the centrepiece of Open Treasure and houses the Treasures of St Cuthbert, including the exquisite Anglo-Saxon pectoral cross.

9 It only took 40 years to build Durham Cathedral. The foundations were laid in 1093 and the main church was completed by 1133. The Nave boasts what is believed to be the world's first structural pointed arch, constructed during this time. Since then additions have been made to the cathedral and ongoing conservation work ensures that the building will remain a renowned landmark.

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Durham Cathedral Emily Carey

One of the chevron columns at Durham Cathedral

The Monks' Dormitory housing the Open Treasure exhibition
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 29, 2018
Words:572
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