THE custodians of Durham Cathedral are celebrating after the landmark building was crowned national Heritage Site of the Year.
Durham Cathedral has won the title from the BBC Countryfile Magazine following a public vote which saw a “landslide” of votes cast for it.
The cathedral was short-listed for the prestigious award in January by Bill Bryson, along with Stonehenge, Rutland Water, Tenby and Skara Brae.
The voting campaign ran from January 19 to February 28, with 56,000 votes cast across 12 categories from Pub of the Year to Holiday Destination of the Year.
Durham Cathedral follows in the footsteps of last year’s winner Hadrian’s Wall, making it the second consecutive year that a North-East landmark has won this prestigious award.
Part of the Durham UNESCO World Heritage Site, Durham Cathedral is renowned as one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in Europe and the resting place of St Cuthbert and the Venerable Bede.
The Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, the Dean of Durham, said: “I am absolutely thrilled.
“It’s an extraordinary thing how well known the cathedral is in the region.
“To be recognised nationally is a fantastic accolade, not just as a place of worship, which we are thrilled about, but also a place people come year on year.
“We have 750,000 people visit each year and we would love even more to come.”
He added: “It is actually one of a number of awards we have won recently.
“Last year we had 11 different awards associated with the cathedral - everything from to do with the restaurant and our education service. The fundraising with our Lego campaign last year won our the Innovative Fundraising Campaign. So this comes as a very welcome addition to a great chest of awards.”
Nominating the cathedral for the award, Bill Bryson said: “I have a sentimental attachment to Durham because I was Chancellor at the University for seven years, so was constantly in and out of the cathedral.
“Almost 1,000 years old, it is unquestionably one of the supreme achievements of the architectural world.
He added: “It is the most thoroughly satisfying building I know and a wonder to behold from every possible vantage point, inside and out.”
This year’s winners will appear in the May issue of the Magazine on sale April 7, including Durham Cathedral as Heritage Site of the Year, the Northumberland Coast as Holiday Destination of the Year, Embleton Bay as Beach of the Year and the Farne Islands as Runner Up in the National Park of the Year category.