New Durham cathedral robes to be dedicated at special service

Three of the new robes that have been commissioned.
Three of the new robes that have been commissioned.
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A beautiful array of new liturgical clothing has been specially commissioned by Durham Cathedral and will be dedicated at the Sung Eucharist on Ascension Day this week.

The nine new robes will be worn at some of the Cathedral’s most important services such as Easter and Christmas, as well as many services at the High Altar.

They will replace the current set of gold and red robes, which were purchased in the 1960s.

The new set will complement the Cathedral’s set of modern robes, produced by the Cathedral Borderers, which are worn for everyday services.

Acting Dean, Canon David Kennedy, said: “Our current set of special service robes have done marvellous service for half a century but they are now worn in places.

“We are fortunate enough to have a fund at the Cathedral that many people have gifted to over the years, specifically for the provision of Cathedral vestments and so we have been able to commission these beautiful robes using these funds.”

The new set of robes has been commissioned from Robes of Distinction, run by The Revd Kenneth Crawford, a priest in Darlington with over 40 years’ experience in liturgical tailoring.

He said: “It was an honour to be asked to provide designs for Durham Cathedral and it is a pleasure and a privilege to have been commissioned to produce robes for such a wonderful place of worship.”

The robes will be dedicated at the Sung Eucharist on Thursday, at 7.30pm.

For more about the designs and the history and significance of the use of vestments, visit
Revd Crawford first started making robes in the 1970s, having had his interest sparked while at school.

He explained: “I had always wanted to make a gown myself and when I eventually did, I found that it came naturally to me and I had quite a flair for it, so I just kept going.

“Techniques have changed a lot since then, with much of the design work now being done on specialist computer programmes and my skills have developed too; I wouldn’t like to wear my first robe again now!”

The robes have been made from damask in a Winchester pattern and feature embroidery on both front and back.

The gold robes feature a St Cuthbert’s Cross, which has been produced by the Queen’s embroiderers, Hand and Lock, whose commissions have included gowns for the Queen, the Queen Mother, and Princess Anne’s wedding ensemble.

The red robes feature a white dove in a circle of flames and the white robes have a crown of thorns with a white rose in the centre.

The embroidery on these robes has been hand-done by Revd Crawford.