THE dust may be a little on the thick side – no duster has swept its surfaces since the 19th century when Queen Victoria was on the throne – but now Winchester Cathedral is carrying out the first clean of the landmark’s Great Screen for around 120 years.

Thanks to funding from the Friends of Winchester Cathedral, the project will see conservationists carefully spruce up the stonework which is more than 540 years old.

It follows a programme of urgent repairs to the cathedral’s presbytery which has been carried out over the last three years, including re-leading the roof, restoring the windows, and conserving the vault.

Already under way, the operation will see McNeilage Conservation clean the Great Screen with soft brushes and a vacuum cleaner. During the cleaning process, loose dirt and dust will be removed from the stonework which currently gives a “negative” appearance, with dark areas lighter than those that should be pale.

According to cathedral records, this will be the first time that the Great Screen has been cleaned since the 1890s.