1. Management Plan

1.1 Aims of the Current Management Plan

This is the management plan for the Durham Castle and Cathedral World Heritage Site. It is a plan for all those with an interest in and responsibility for  managing the World Heritage Site. The UNESCO Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention state that “each nominated property should have an appropriate management plan or other documented management system which must specify how the outstanding universal value (OUV) of a property should be preserved, preferably through participatory means”. UK Government policy aims to ensure a management plan is in place for all UK World Heritage Sites.

The purpose of this plan is to:

  • Set out what is special about Durham WHS;
  • Identify key issues affecting the WHS;
  • Set out a long-term vision, objectives and action plan for the site to ensure the maintenance of its OUV for present and future generations.

The WHS Management Plan for Durham was first published in 2006. This plan is the first review and will run for six years from 2016 to 2021. It builds upon the objectives and actions set out in the preceding plan. The successful delivery of the plan depends on all partners working together to achieve the management objectives and actions.

1.2 Achievements Since 2006

As per the objectives of the 2006 WHS Management Plan:

1.2.1 WHS Management Processes

  • The World Heritage Site Coordinating Committee has been established. It has endorsed the Management Plan as a guiding document for the World Heritage Site and meets a minimum of three times a year.
  • A World Heritage Site Coordinator has been in place since May 2008 and is responsible for ensuring that the Management Plan is implemented.

1.2.2 Site Boundaries

  • The Site boundaries were expanded in 2008 to include Palace Green and the buildings surrounding it, many of which reflect the power, privileges and responsibilities of the Prince Bishops of Durham.

Figure 1.1 View of Durham Castle and Cathedral World Heritage Site from Durham Railway Station

1.2.3 Restoration and Refurbishment of WHS Buildings

Figure 1.2 Repair work on Cathedral Stone

The Cathedral:

  • Continuing repair work is undertaken on the Cathedral stone through a rolling programme of repair;
  • Stonework conservation has continued on the Chapel of the Nine Altars and the scaffolding and hoarding finally removed;
  • The WHS treasures exhibition was converted into a new Cathedral Shop and the Cathedral Restaurant has been refurbished, reinstating the visual unity of the medieval undercroft as part of this project;
  • The Chapel of the Holy Cross has been dedicated in the refurbished Deanery  undercroft;
  • The Open Treasure project has begun with the creation of new choir vestries in the space formerly used for an audio-visual display and the opening up of the medieval undercroft to create a new shop in the former treasury exhibition and the refurbishment of the restaurant. 

Figure 1.3 Castle Great Hall after refurbishment 

The Castle:

  • Continuing repair work is undertaken on the Castle stone through a rolling programme of repair;
  • The Castle was successfully removed from Historic England’s Buildings at Risk Register, following the repair of its roofs;
  • Extensive refurbishment was undertaken in the Great Hall, including conservation of the paintings and consolidation of the woodwork;, the keep, the bar, the kitchen and servery and Tunstall Chapel including conservation on the misericords and altar.

Figure 1.4 Palace Green East side (left to right): Cosin’s Hall, Cosin’s Almshouse and the Pemberton Building

Buildings on and around Palace Green:

  • Palace Green Library has been refurbished to create gallery and exhibition spaces which have been able to host internationally significant treasures such as the Lindisfarne Gospels;
  • The introduction of conservation heating and a programme of conservation in John Cosin’s 17th century library has allowed its book  collection to be put back into the building, which is now accessible to the public;
  • The Library is also now home to the University’s Museum of Archaeology and includes displays on the early history of Durham and the University;
  • The University’s Institute of Advanced Study was established and located in the restored ‘Cosin’s Hall’ on Palace Green;
  • The former Almshouses on Owengate were restored and converted into the WHS Visitor Centre which now receives over 100,000 visitors a year and provides an introduction to the World Heritage Site;
  • Several of the other buildings on the World Heritage Site have been restored, including the Bishop’s Court building on North Bailey and several adjacent properties.

Figure 1.5 Palace Green West side (left to right): The Music School and the Palace Green Library

1.2.4 Conservation Area Appraisal, Conservation Plans and Conservation Statements

  • A City Centre Conservation Area Appraisal has been undertaken by Durham County Council;
  • Conservation Management Plans have been produced for the Castle and Cathedral, and for the buildings on Palace Green;
  • A conservation statement has been produced for the church of St Mary the Less.

1.2.5 Presentation of the WHS Buildings

  • The exterior floodlighting of the Castle and Cathedral was replaced by a scheme which is more energy efficient and brings out the    details of the architecture more effectively. This was funded by Durham County Council and supported by the Institute of Lighting  Engineers.

Figure 1.6 World Heritage Day 2012

Figure 1.7 Castle Medieval Banquet

1.2.6 Interpretation, Public Engagement, and Education

  • The new WHS visitor centre provides interpretation about the WHS and World Heritage Sites in general;
  • A WHS website was launched in 2011;
  • A WHS guidebook and a children’s activity book have been published;
  • Interpretive events are organised on a periodic basis to share many of the stories of the World Heritage Site with the public;
  • Durham students have been actively engaged in the interpretation of the site, and student-led events have become a more prominent part of the cultural life of both the Castle and the Cathedral;
  • Tours of the WHS are offered on Heritage Open Days and English Tourism Week;
  • Public engagement with children and their families about the World Heritage Site is taking place both on the site itself and through activities carried out in local schools;
  • The World Heritage Site Visitor Centre is staffed by 2 paid members of staff, supported by c.50 volunteers, who engage with the site, and share their knowledge and enthusiasm for Durham with visitors and local residents alike;
  • The use of the visitor centre by local community groups (including student groups) has proven very successful, and numerous meetings, talks, seminars, events, recitals and rehearsals are held there;
  • A rolling programme of art exhibitions, often by local artists, brings people into the visitor centre, and showcases local talent and traditions, such as working with textiles and stonemasonry;
  • The provision of new interpretation in the Cathedral began as part of the Lindisfarne Gospels Exhibition in Durham in 2013.

1.2.7 Research

  • The Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS) was formally launched as a Durham University research institute in 2010, evolving from the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, founded in 1998;
  • IMEMS includes the World Heritage Site as one of its key research themes and is responsible for developing the World Heritage Site’s Research Strategy and Agenda;
  • A new MA programme in International Cultural Heritage Management has been established and uses the World Heritage Site as a key case study for research;
  • Seminars and public lectures on topics related to the World Heritage Site are organised on a regular basis by IMEMS, Medieval and Early Modern Student Association (MEMSA), and the World Heritage Site Visitor Centre itself.

1.2.8 Links to other Heritage Institutions/Sites

Numerous institutional links have been established, including:

  • Direct collaboration with UNESCO (both the Secretariat and the Historic Urban Landscapes Programme);
  • Various World Heritage Sites including:  Vezelay (France), Humayun’s Tomb (India), Lumbini (Nepal), and Aflaj (Oman);
  • WHSs in the North East of England (Hadrian’s Wall, Saltaire and Fountains’ Abbey – with which Durham has formed an informal working group);
  • Durham has also received professional visits from key cultural heritage managers from the Xian province of China, Nepal and Nara in Japan;
  • Links have also been established with other Universities working on heritage issues, and Durham World Heritage Site has actively encouraged other universities to take an academic interest in Durham as a case study. Links to the Edinburgh College of Art (Urban Conservation) and Newcastle University (Culture and Heritage Studies), are strong. 

Figure 1.8 Durham Castle on Castle Day (Malcom Tucker)

1.2.9 Cultural Events

  • The World Heritage Site has been the venue for hundreds of cultural events, ranging in scale from small recitals and performances in its small spaces, to city-wide events such as the Lumière festival.

Figure 1.9 Lumière , 2009

1.2.10 Management Process

  • In addition to the WHS Coordinating Committee, the need for an operations committee was identified to ensure the streamlined management of the World Heritage Site on a day-to-day basis, especially on operational issues related to events, visitor experience, public facilities and infrastructure. This is being established, with the aim of unifying the running of the site and referring strategic matters to the Coordinating Committee.

WHS Management Chart