Love Durham Cathedral?Donate now

As the Cathedral is primarily a place of worship we believe you should be able to visit undisturbed by other people’s cameras and smartphones.

Where can I take photos?

The Cathedral Cloister and exterior parts of the Cathedral site

Appropriate, non-commercial photography is permitted in the Cathedral Cloister, the College - our Cathedral close - and other outdoor spaces in the Cathedral precincts.

Please respect the privacy of others and do not include any children in your photos without the express permission of the adult responsible for their care.

Photography is not allowed:

  • inside the Cathedral
  • in the Library or the Library reading rooms
  • within the Open Treasure exhibitions


Photographic alternatives


Images of the Cathedral, Precincts and artefacts

You can buy postcards and illustrated guide books from our shop. Guide books are also sold at the Visitor Desk at the West End of the Cathedral.

Library postcards

The Library has postcards of some of the Cathedral's manuscripts. You can also order copies from its large collection of master slides and photographs of buildings, artefacts and other specialist items.

Cathedral Library imaging services

The imaging service can provide digital images, digital scans, and microfilm reproductions of material from the Cathedral’s collections. Find out more in photographic imaging services.

Pre-arranged photography events

We hold regular photography mornings and evenings.  Please look out for these in What’s On or email events@durhamcathedral to register your interest.

The reasons for our photographic policy

We do not allow photography other than in the Cloister and exterior parts of the Cathedral site. This includes use of still, digital and video cameras and mobile telephones. Reasons include:

  • concern for the conservation of the collections
  • issues relating to copyright and safeguarding
  • creating the best visitor experience for exhibitions that include items of religious significance

But how can photography harm an object?

Photography exposes objects to intense levels of light, and especially when a flash is used. Over time and repeated exposure, these levels can damage objects, most obviously by causing colours to fade but also through accelerating degradation of the material. Prohibiting photography means we can preserve objects for longer and allow more people to enjoy them.

What do you mean about copyright issues?

The Chapter of Durham Cathedral does not necessarily own the copyright for all of the objects on display. This is true even if they form part of the Cathedral’s Collections.

What do you mean by safeguarding issues?

Photography in the exhibition spaces can have serious implications for safeguarding, especially when there are children visiting.

What is photography’s impact on the visitor experience?

Photography can disrupt the experience of other visitors, particularly in areas where religious relics are on display.

Photography permits for research

Occasionally some educational research may require specific images of the Cathedral or artefacts. Photography permits for such personal research may be purchased from the Visitor Desk which is open from Monday to Saturday 9.30am – 4.30pm and Sunday 12.30pm – 4.30pm

Proof of academic status may be required. Visitors who do not have a good academic reason for requiring a photograph are asked not to abuse this facility.

Conditions of using a permit

Where a permit is given, the following conditions apply:

  • A fee of £15 (including VAT) per day is payable in advance for each photography permit
  • Students will be charged £7.50 (including VAT) on production of a valid student ID Card
  • The permit is for a designated day only
  • No flash photography is permitted at any time
  • Additional lighting can be used only if arranged and agreed to beforehand
  • No children may be photographed unless the express permission of their parents or guardians has been obtained
  • Photographers should make every effort not to include visitors, volunteers or Cathedral Chapter staff in their photographs unless their express permission has been sought and received
  • Photographers must ensure that their equipment does not impede visitor or staff access nor pose a threat to the health and safety of others in the Cathedral
  • Photographers will be given a permit (a brightly coloured ‘sash’) and should wear this at all times
  • There is to be no photography of worship, except by prior agreement, in order to protect the privacy of worshippers
  • To comply with copyright and performing rights legislation, no sound recording may be made in conjunction with photography
  • Photography must be for personal research use only. These images cannot be published or used commercially in any medium including print, online and social media.
  • There is to be no commercial use of photographs taken in Durham Cathedral without a separate licence.  

Our Stewards, Bedesmen and Vergers are responsible for ensuring that all visitors are aware of and abide by our photographic policy. Please follow their instructions at all times. Their decision is final, even where this limits the scope of what is permitted.

Who to contact about photography permits for educational use

These are available from the Visitor Desk at the West End of the Cathedral and prior permission is required.  Please contact or call 0191 338 7178 (Monday to Saturday 10.00am-4.00pm and Sunday 1.00pm to 4.00pm)

Who to contact about commercial photography and filming

This is by prior permission only, including taking wedding photographs.

Requests for all commercial photography and filming should be made to:

The Cathedral Office
The College
Durham DH1 3EH

Please contact 0191 374 4053 or

We reserve the right to deny or withdraw a photography permit at any time, or to withdraw general permission to photograph in the precincts.