Last brick is placed as Durham Cathedral in LEGO® reopens to the public

Durham Cathedral in LEGO® was finally completed on Thursday 15 February as the last brick was placed on the 1.7m high model.

After a few years in storage, the rebuild of Durham Cathedral in LEGO® was completed by 11 year old Libby Armstrong from Beverley in East Yorkshire, who placed the final piece (a cross) on top of the East end of the LEGO® cathedral structure.

Durham Cathedral in LEGO® has been lovingly re-built by a team of volunteers since December 2023 with the aim to complete it in time for families visiting over February half term. After three years in storage, following the Covid-19 pandemic, the structure is now housed in a new permanent location in the Durham Cathedral Museum.

Libby who was visiting Durham Cathedral for a day out with her family, including her dad Chris, was asked by the cathedral team if she would like to add the last brick to the build. Libby said,

"I was really excited to be asked to place the last brick, I was just tall enough to reach. I used to build a lot of LEGO sets when I was younger but nothing as big as this!"

Durham Cathedral in LEGO®, was an ambitious fundraising project from 2013 to 2016 which saw the cathedral recreated in LEGO® bricks.

This imaginative fundraising initiative was first developed to support the development of the Durham Cathedral Museum.

The model was built by members of the public, with each brick representing a £1 donation and since the first brick was laid on 11 July 2013, over 300,000 bricks were added to the model over the next 3 years.

Andrew Usher, Chief Officer for Visitor Experience and Enterprise says:

“We're delighted to be able to bring back Durham Cathedral in LEGO, as it holds a special place in people’s hearts. Not only does it represent the first large-scale LEGO model to be built by members of the public, but also represents the many stories from the thousands of people, businesses and community groups who added their bricks.

We're keen to engage the next generation with Durham Cathedral in LEGO too which is why we surprised one of our visitors by asking them to place the last brick. 11 years ago we started building this structure and today, 11 year old Libby did a fantastic job of completing its rebuild."

Many visitors and their families were keen to see the model up-close after the last brick was placed, and among the first was a school group from St Margaret's Church of England Primary School in Durham, with pupils delighted by the detail and describing the structure as 'brilliant', 'amazing' and 'the biggest LEGO set ever'!

The original build of Durham Cathedral in LEGO® proved to be an eye-catching and popular way to raise money from both members of the public as well as businesses. The structure was taken down in sections so rebuilding it has taken a much shorter time, but has still taken careful planning and attention to detail from the team.

Andrew continues,

“Rebuilding the model over the past few months has been a labour of love by a team of volunteers. Every week we've seen the structure get bigger with more intricate details being added."

Volunteers or ‘LEGO Makers’ also played a huge part in the original build. Led by volunteer Les Hancock, over 40 volunteers sorted bricks, supported people to place their LEGO® piece and tracked where people came from so there was a record of the thousands of people from across the UK and the rest of the world who added a brick.

Les supported the build and also the takedown of the original cathedral and has been heading up a new team of volunteers to rebuild the structure in its new home over the past three months.

The Very Revd Dr Philip Plyming, Dean of Durham says,

'Ten years ago on a visit to Durham my two sons placed bricks in the original build, and it connected us afresh with the wonderful place that is Durham Cathedral. It is fantastic to see the whole model back on display and open to all to visit.'

The 300,000 brick model is as accurate a scale representation of the cathedral as possible, spanning 3.84m long, 1.53m wide and 1.7m high.

Philip continues,

'Durham Cathedral in LEGO takes your breath away. It is a reminder of the precious gift of creativity which comes from God - a gift which saw the original Durham Cathedral built for God's glory, and now this tremendous model. Come and be amazed!'

Durham Cathedral in LEGO® will be on permanent display in the Durham Cathedral Museum, with no admission charge. For those wanting to explore the Museum further, tickets are available on arrival.