Not Notre Dame
Fires in cathedrals. Once they were a regular occurance. You would not believe the number of times transformative building of iconic cathedrals came in the wake of a destructive fire. Most famously Old St Pauls was lost in the Great Fire of 1666. But did you know Canterbury Cathedral was destroyed by fire in 1067 and Southwark in 1212? Norwich Cathedral roof was lost in a fire following a lightening strike in 1463.
These days we do not expect them, or at least not that often. The Notre Dame fire was a shock that horrified a nation and art lovers everywhere.
So with that in mind the authorities at Wells Cathedral ran a practice drill. Emergency services were called to a mock fire in the cathedral roof at 9.30am yesterday morning (20th July).
The Cathedral’s normal evacuation procedures were set in motion and emergency services attended including the fire, police and ambulance services. Access to the building was prohibited.
Permission to re-enter the building was only given following a full site sweep and the all clear from the fire service. However practice drills by the fire service in the high parts of the Cathedral continued.
Astonishingly this appears to have been the first such firedrill in an English cathedral since the Notre Dame fire back in April.
The Dean of Wells, The Very Revd Dr John Davies, believed it all passed off well “The drill forms part of our ongoing commitment to good governance of this important heritage site and our aim is to continue to take that commitment seriously over the coming years. Our thanks go to the staff involved with the exercise and also to the emergency services for their professional and swift response”.