Making accessibility a priority at Exeter Cathedral

Family pointing at Exeter Cathedral ceiling

Making accessibility a priority at Exeter Cathedral

Published: 15 April 2024
With the support of £30,000 Benefact Trust funding, Exeter Cathedral is working to install state of the art facilities as part of a drive to make the landmark heritage building accessible and inclusive for all.
Founded in 1050, Exeter Cathedral is one of Europe’s great cathedrals, showcasing breathtaking architecture and medieval features. In an effort to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to appreciate its rich heritage, the cathedral is undertaking a transformative project to make the building more accessible.
New accessible toilets are being built alongside a Changing Places toilet, which will provide changing and toilet facilities with specialist equipment, to assist people with profound learning or physical disabilities. A quarter of a million people in the UK need Changing Places toilets to enable them to get out and about and enjoy activities which many of us take for granted.
Paul Playford, Senior Grants and Operations Officer for Benefact Trust, said: “It is a privilege to support Exeter Cathedral in its mission to improve accessibility. Many people with complex disabilities can’t visit cathedrals, churches, and general visitor attractions because of a lack of fully accessible facilities. The Changing Places toilet - alongside other accessible facilities - will mean that everyone has the opportunity to appreciate this incredible, heritage landmark.” 
The funding has been awarded through our Community Impact Grants programme, which supports projects that will make a positive and transformative impact on lives and communities.
This particular initiative is part of Exeter Cathedral’s 2020s Development Appeal Project, which includes essential building conservation and improvements, designed to enhance the visitor experience and to secure a more sustainable future for the cathedral.
The Nave of Exeter Cathedral from a bird's-eye view

Image - Exeter Cathedral Nave Photo by Exeter Cathedral, Photographer Emma Solley

For The Very Revd Jonathan Greener, Dean of Exeter, improving the accessibility of the cathedral is crucial to making sure the building is a welcoming place for everyone: “Our new facilities will enable more people to visit this wonderful historic building regardless of their access needs. Our ambitious Development Project will ensure that this precious piece of Devon continues to inspire and meet the needs of all the people of Devon for the 21st century.”

It is expected that the cathedral’s new Changing Places facility will open in 2025. 

Other improvements underway as part of the Exeter Cathedral 2020s Development Appeal include the construction of a new ‘Cloister Gallery’ to connect to the cathedral with its 13th century Chapter House and Pearson buildings. Essential conservation work is also taking place in the Quire of the cathedral, including the installation of a more efficient underfloor heating system to make the area a more comfortable place for services, community gatherings and events, while also helping to reduce the cathedral’s carbon footprint.

Exeter Cathedral’s 2020s Development Appeal aims to raise £10 million, and has already received £6.2 million, including a grant of £30,000 from Benefact Trust and a £4.3 million grant received in 2022 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

As well as improvements and conservation work, the funds will be used to support a calendar of community activities and events, designed to make the ancient Devon landmark more engaging for a wider range of people.

*Header Image - Exeter Cathedral Photo by Exeter Cathedral, Photographer Sebastian Christopher

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