Pilgrim Porch, Chester Cathedral

Chester’s Platinum Jubilee Entrance



Donald Insall Associates have initiated the design and implementation of an innovative new architectural feature which champions accessibility and heritage at Chester Cathedral’s West Doors. The installation coincided with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. The Pilgrim Porch has been designed by the renowned sculptor, Stephen Broadbent. It comprises a shell-like patinated cast bronze arch set behind the medieval timber doors of the Cathedral’s Perpendicular Gothic West front.  


The bronze arch which is hung with a pair of large and heavylaminated glass doors are patterned with a labyrinth design composed of images of every church in the diocese of Chester. A digital installation in the cathedral will allow visitors to find out about all the churches represented in Stephen Broadbent’s labyrinth.


With the porch complete, the venerable timber doors of the West front can be left open, so that the Cathedral appears open, allowing visitors views into the heart of the building. Internal door handles cast in bronze form part of the door frame. Shaped in the abstracted form of geese, these refer to St Werburgh, patron saint of Chester. An Anglo-Saxon princess and nun, Werburgh is said to have resurrected one of her favourite flock of geese after it was eaten by her convent steward. A badge depicting a basket of geese was worn by medieval pilgrims to St Werburgh’s shrine in the Lady Chapel of the cathedral.


The Pilgrim Porch sits on a new stone platform, designed by Donald Insall Associates which has transformed the Cathedral’s west end incorporating new steps, handrails and balustrade and accommodates tiered seating for large events. Its new position symbolises Baptism into the Christian faith with the entry into the Cathedral.

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