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Aerial Surveys Hertfordshire – St Albans Cathedral

Aerial Surveys Hertfordshire – St Albans Cathedral

Terrain surveys were approached earlier this year with an interesting challenge to help the local Cathedral of St Albans with a fundraising programme. The Cathedral wanted to produce an ‘adopt a brick‘ programme of the Norman Tower where people could sponsor an individual brick to help raise much needed funds.

aerial surveying in hertfordshire close up of church

Level of detail

The tower is the oldest central cathedral tower in Britain, built by the Normans between 1077 and 1088. The Normans used flint & bricks which were in fact recycled from the Roman city of Verulamium at the bottom of the hill, where Alban had once lived.

The are & material used in the construction of the Tower means that no one brick was the same & would have to be drawn manually. To draw every brick on the Norman Tower would not only be a lengthy process but also a costly one, there are thousands of bricks on one elevation alone. Although we have the technology & expertise to carry out this type of work through Terrestrial Laser scanning and/or photogrammetry the questions we really had to ask ourselves was ‘is it really necessary, would this give our client best value for money….. the answer was a clear no.

Through close consultation with St Albans Cathedrals Development Manager, Stephanie Pisharody, we were able to come up with a workflow which would provide a deliverable they would be able to take forward & manage themselves throughout the fundraising programme.

Aerial Surveying

Surveying the Norman Tower from the air would ensure that we could get the vantage points necessary to record the brick work & features of the Tower down to the level at which the lower buildings meet the Tower- information that is simply not obtainable from the ground.

We chose to use our DJI M210 Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (SUAV) to carry out the site work as it offers a versatile & stable platform.
Using drones for aerial surveying works on the basis of photogrammetry where numerous high definition photographs of a site are taken, most projects will involve hundreds of high definition images being acquired. The large number of images are required to ensure sufficient overlap between images which is essential to build an accurate 2D or 3D model.

The photos are taken remotely by the camera onboard the drone which is operated by the remote pilot on the ground. The images are then processed in a specialist software package to produce an accurate 3D model of the site, in this case The Norman Tower. Once the model has been subjected to a thorough QA check for accuracy it is then exported in a format which can be used in AutoCAD where the survey drawings are produced.

aerial surveying in hertfordshire picture of church spire
aerial surveying drone kit

Please note that In order for a drone to be used in relation to business the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) must have issued a Permission to Fly Commercial Operations (Pfco) & the company or individual hold relevant insurances as well as having the land owner’s permission. Terrain surveys have 2 qualified remote pilots, a Pfco from the CAA & the relevant insurances to carry out aerial surveying.


Customer Satisfaction
Ensuring our clients receive what they need instead of what is ‘thought’ they should have is an approach we always take at Terrain Surveys. This was very much appreciated as highlighted by Stephanie’s comments Below;

“We were delighted to launch our ‘Adopt a Brick’ programme at the Cathedral last week. This couldn’t have happened without your help and advice, coming up with a great solution to create an annotated tower graphic, and of course the fantastic drone images. Thank you very much for helping us get this off the ground – we hope it will engage people with the Cathedral’s history for many years to come!”

Terrain surveys prides itself on customer satisfaction & is proud to have been part of helping St Albans Cathedral launch its fund raising programme in order to preserve its valuable heritage.

terrian surveys birds eye view of cathedral
Terrain Surveys aerial surveys in hertfordshire
terrain surveys aerial surveying hertfordshire
terrain surveys drone

Sustaining St Alban Cathedral

The Cathedral is free to enter & attracts many thousands of visitors & pilgrims each year. It costs over £5000 a day to keep the doors open & sustain its ministry & mission. The Cathedral relies on the generosity of donors & volunteers whose support secure its remarkable heritage for generations to come.

full st albans cathedral picture

Adopt St Albans Cathedral’ is a uniquely personal way of giving whilst making a difference to heritage, music and learning here. You can adopt a Roman brick from the medieval tower, a pipe from the Harrison & Harrison organ, or an item from the Cathedral archives from just £25. This can be as a personal donation, as a gift for family or friends, or in memory of a loved one.

All adoptions can include a dedication or gift message, and you or your chosen recipient will receive a personalised adoption pack with a certificate and details of your adopted feature. Adoptions last a lifetime (100 years) and are recorded under the name of your choosing in the Cathedral archives in perpetuity.

The adoption levels range from £25 to £1000 in each of the three categories. We welcome you to contact us to discuss your specific adoption or to explore adoptions £150+.

Adoptions are invited through the Cathedral shop, via the website (www.stalbanscathedral.org ) or by contacting the Development Office directly on 01727 890231 or development@stalbanscathedral.org

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