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Mosque steps in to feed homeless as fire forces continued closure of Exeter Cathedral

Posted on: November 1, 2016 12:18 PM
Firefighters tackle a blaze in a row of historic buildings opposite Exeter Cathedral. The fire destroyed the Royal Clarence Hotel.
Photo Credit: Devon and Somerset Fire Service
Related Categories: England, Exeter, fire, homeless, Interfaith

[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] A weekly Wednesday-night soup-kitchen run by Exeter Cathedral to feed the city’s homeless will switch to another location this week, because the building and its environs remain closed following a serious fire. The Wednesday night feeding facility is part of a weekly rota of soup-kitchens providing hot food each day. A local mosque in Exeter will provide the food tomorrow night, which will be served from the nearby Crosslines charity.

Exeter Cathedral has not been damaged by the fire, which destroyed a number of historic buildings on the Cathedral Green, including the Royal Clarence Hotel – purported England’s oldest hotel. Some smoke is believed to have gone into the cathedral’s north tower.

Cathedral spokesman Laurence Blyth told ACNS that safety concerns like behind the decision to close the cathedral.

A lorry carrying a large demolition crane was driven into place in Cathedral Green this morning. Engineers will open up part of what remains of the façade of the Royal Clarence Hotel to give fire fighters greater access to the inside. There, they will have a better opportunity to extinguish hot spots in the rubble, which continue to burn several days after the fire began.

The west front apron – the large public square outside the main entrance – is currently home to emergency service command and control equipment and vehicles. It, with much of the cathedral, sits behind a police cordon.

The cathedral’s soup kitchen is normally housed in the chapter house. This part of the building remains accessible and is where worship is taking place while the main body of the cathedral is closed. The mosque that is stepping in to provide the food tomorrow night already works with the cathedral, supporting the food kitchen once or twice per month.

Some buildings in the city which were also closed because of the fire have re-opened; but others remain closed. Cathedral authorities are keeping in regular contact with the emergency services to determine when it will be safe for the cathedral to re-open.

The next large event due to take place is the Remembrance Sunday commemorations on 13 November. Devon’s county war memorial is outside the cathedral and several hundred people attend a commemoration at the memorial before moving inside the cathedral for a Remembrance Service.