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A new Cathedral Architect for York Minster

22 Jul, 2020

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The Chapter of York today announced the appointment of Oliver Caroe, as the new Cathedral Architect – officially known as the Surveyor of the Fabric – for York Minster. Oliver succeeds Andrew Arrol who is retiring after 14 years in the role.

Working closely with the Director of Works and Precinct, the Cathedral Architect is Chapter’s principal professional adviser on all matters relating to the conservation and repair of the cathedral’s fabric and, from time-to-time, provides ad hoc project-based support and advice on the care and development of the Minster itself and its surrounding estate.

Welcoming Oliver’s appointment, the Right Revd Dr Jonathan Frost, Dean of York said:
“‘I am delighted by Oliver’s appointment and confident he will serve the Minster with distinction, just as Andrew Arrol did before him. Oliver brings imagination, intellectual energy and vast experience to the role of Surveyor of the Fabric. The team at York Minster looks forward to working with him as we embrace the responsibilities, challenges and opportunities of our moment in history.”

Dame Fiona Reynolds, Chair of the Cathedrals Fabric Advisory Commission for England (CFCE) said: “CFCE welcomes the appointment of Oliver Caroe as Surveyor of the Fabric to York Minster, and we thank Andrew Arrol for his 14 years of dedicated service. Oliver brings deep knowledge and understanding of the historic fabric alongside a lively appreciation of the contemporary challenges cathedrals face from his work at St Paul’s and Ripon, and we look forward to working with him in this new role.”

Oliver Caroe is one of the country’s foremost ecclesiastical architects. His work and experience spans many sectors. Architecture runs in Oliver’s veins: his great-grandfather was WD Caroe, who founded Caroe & Partners in 1884 and his grandfather and father both were also renowned conservation architects.

As an accredited specialist in conservation, Oliver has particular expertise in conserving, repairing and improving cathedrals and churches of all ages. His track record is equally strong as a designer of new buildings, from small residential projects to the more complex educational settings of Oxbridge colleges. He was appointed as architect to Ripon Cathedral in 2010, where he has led several significant conservation and repair projects and is currently working on a long-term masterplan. Oliver is also the Surveyor to the Fabric of St Paul’s Cathedral, a role he has held since 2011.

Commenting on his appointment, Oliver said: “The Chapter of York, oversees and cares for some of the most fantastic buildings and spaces on the planet. The cathedral precincts and the Minster stand at the heart of the City of York, proclaiming their welcome to everyone. Since I was a child in short trousers, dragged to cathedrals by my father, I have been awed and excited by these intricate and ingenious structures. Now, as a grown up conservation architect, I am no less thrilled and excited by the wondrous architecture and craft skills.

“Today I am most interested in what cathedrals can do in the 21st century as places of worship, as places where communities and people can meet and as vital and vibrant components of our historic cities.

“Chapter is leading the way in its partnership with the City of York and an emerging neighbourhood plan – which can transform the precincts for the citizens of York.

“Even as society works to plot a course out of the pandemic, even though this is a time of challenge and grieving for many, this is also an exciting time to be invited to join the cathedral as Surveyor. There is much to learn from the craftspeople – the masons and glaziers – the fundraisers, historians and archaeologists. My heart races, and it is a little daunting, but this is also a dream come true for someone who believes in the great good that cathedrals can do. So I much look forward to being of service to such a talented and committed team, and to our new Dean and Archbishop.”


Biographical details
Oliver Caroe, BA (Hons) Dipl Arch Cantab RIBA AABC
Surveyor to the Fabric, York Minster

Director and owner of Caroe Architecture Ltd, Oliver is one of the country’s foremost ecclesiastical architects. His work and experience spans many sectors. Residential projects, pure conservation and major commercial refurbishments are part of his repertoire, with particular emphasis on the sustainability of existing and historic buildings.

He was appointed as architect to Ripon Cathedral in 2010, where he has led several significant projects. These include the design and installation of new Narthex porches, scheduling and specifying a major programme of phased stonework repairs, the recent conservation of the medieval choirstalls, and he is working on a long-term masterplan.

Since 2011 Oliver has also been the Surveyor to the Fabric of St Paul’s Cathedral. In addition to the constant process of cleaning, repair and renewal, he has overseen projects ranging from the re-tanking of the galleries around the Dome, re-presenting the Crypt facilities, introducing new contemporary artwork commissions and working alongside the Collections team to conserve and rediscover the extensive collections, archives and the magnificent Wren Library on the Triforium level.

Oliver’s other major projects include: the conservation of Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds; a major programme of work of repair and renewal for the University Church in Oxford; the creation of an Archives Centre at St John’s College, Cambridge and a conservation programme for G.E. Street’s St Mary Magdalene, Paddington.

Oliver’s relevant experience includes:

Many projects of refurbishment and adaptive reuse of historic buildings

Conservation Management Planning and Estate Masterplanning for Emmanuel College Cambridge, the Nymans Estate and Ripon Cathedral

Major quinquennial inspections and programmes of repair and conservation on Grade 1 listed historic buildings

New and contemporary design in sensitive settings, including visitor facilities for the National Trust Wimpole Estate; Kings Cross Station, Almshouses in Saffron Walden, two buildings for the Scampston Estate, Yorkshire

Commissioning of new artworks and craft, including Bill Viola at St Paul’s Cathedral,new Gargoyles for Ripon Cathedral and new visual art commissions

Design review for the Church Buildings Council and Cambridge City Council Design and Conservation panel

Sustainability of ‘hard to treat’ historic buildings: Founder Member of the Church of England Shrinking the Footprint steering group.

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