A REDEVELOPMENT that has been years in the making by Carlisle Cathedral has reached an important milestone.

Construction workers moved in to the Grade I-listed Fratry site, located beside the entrance to the cathedral, just before Christmas.

Since then, the stone porch - an addition by the Victorians - has been taken down, revealing the original doorway to the building.

The £3.4m project was made possible by £1.9m from the Heritage Lottery Fund, together with a determined fundraising effort including the Friends of Carlisle Cathedral, grant-making trusts, donations by members of the public, and activity at the cathedral.

The Fratry project, which is being carried out by Fielden Fowles architects, has been dubbed the most significant physical intervention on the cathedral site for more than 150 years.

Once work is completed, which is expected to be by Christmas, a new café will be created, along with a new space for arts and events.

A lightweight, fully-glazed bronze structure will connect the pavilion to the split levels of the refurbished existing Fratry building where exhibitions, performances and events will take place.

Designed in collaboration with engineers Structure Workshop, the link structure aims to contrast with the red sandstone elevations of the pavilion, which are inspired by the surrounding arches and Gothic elements.

The designs were created following extensive public consultations in 2016.

The traditional arched forms, set into fine rectilinear stonework, aim to create a number of shadow patterns throughout the changing daylight and seasons.

The Dean of Carlisle, The Very Reverend Mark Boyling, told the News & Star: “After careful project development and such extensive consultation, it is thrilling to see work beginning on site to bring the Fratry building back to life and provide the facilities we need for the cathedral to engage with more people in new ways.”

Ingrid Petit, an associate at Feilden Fowles architects, added: “We are delighted to see this important commission starting on site after many years in the making.

“The Fratry project has been an opportunity for the practice to design a new intervention and public space linked to a historically significant building at the heart of the Cathedral Precinct and the city.”

The Fratry was built in the 1500s as the Abbey refectory.

It is currently home to the cathedral’s collection of 17th and 18th century books, all of which have been carefully boxed up and placed into temporary storage by a number of volunteers.