We might look a bit different; you might have to do things a bit differently…but here at English Cathedrals We’re Good to Go …and you’re very welcome
Summer dinosaur trails, work by the most iconic and influential artists of the 20th and 21st century, Hereford’s historic Mappa Munda back on show, open air cinemas on our green spaces, a building project finally achieved, and the first Cathedral At Night event after almost four months in lockdown.
Welcome to 2020 – Year of Cathedrals Year of Pilgrimage – our cathedrals are slowly and safely opening back up to visitors and they’re all Good to Go.
Every cathedral which is able to re-open to the public has achieved the Visit Britain’s industry standard and consumer charter mark We’re Good to Go which means they have taken all the necessary steps to help ensure people’s safety in line with latest Government and Public Health guidance.
On Friday St Albans welcomed over 400 people to the first Cathedral At Night event since lockdown. Visitors were able to discover more about its medieval past and see its ancient wall paintings illuminated for the evening, plus guided tours by costumed guides, prayer stations – and Pimms, cakes and strawberries on sale in the café. It was so well received that St Albans has just announced two more Cathedral At Night dates – August 21 and a heritage inspired “Night” in September.
This week Hereford Cathedral re-opened its Mappa Mundi and Chained Library to visitors with a new exhibition The Two Thomas’ to mark the anniversaries this year of Thomas Becket and Thomas Cantilupe. Hereford has also announced it will host the iconic British sculpture, The Knife Angel for 28 days starting in June 2021 on behalf of the Knife Angel Hereford team who have organised a series of interactive workshops and events, a dedicated youth conference and weapons amnesty. You can read more by visiting the team’s website.
Norwich Cathedral launched its summer dinosaur trails for children this week too – part of a number of prehistoric inspired events as the cathedral counts down to the arrival of Dippy, the Natural History Museum, London’s, iconic dinosaur cast which will go on display in the nave in the New Year.
Dippy on Tour was due to arrive earlier this month but had to be postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic – it will now arrive on 11 January to 21 March 2021 – bringing to an end Dippy’s three year nationwide tour.
Freya Stannard, Head of National Programmes at The Natural History Museum, said:
“We are thrilled to confirm the new dates for Dippy’s visit to Norwich. We will be working with the Cathedral to respond to ongoing changes for visitor attractions, implementing new measures where needed to create a safe and enjoyable experience for visitors.
“The magnificent Norwich Cathedral is the perfect destination to bring a close to Dippy’s nationwide tour which launched all the way back in 2017. We hope that once again Dippy will continue to inspire visitors and foster a long-term respect for the natural world.”
Peterborough Cathedral has also announced T-Rex the Killer Question, the Natural History Museum’s touring exhibition will now be at the Cathedral from Monday 19th July to Monday 30th August 2021, coinciding with the school summer holidays, just as it would have done this year.
The exhibition includes a 12-metre-long static model of a T. rex as well as a life-size T. rex skeleton and nine animatronic dinosaur models. It will be displayed in the early 16th century ‘New Building’ at the east end of the Cathedral.
Tickets for the exhibition went on sale at the end of February, and over 1000 have been sold. All ticket holders will be contacted by the Cathedral in the coming months.
In Salisbury visitors can finally see for themselves 20 iconic and important works of art by 20 renowned artists of our time including Frink, Gormley, Henry Moore, and Grayson Perry after lockdown meant it could only be seen online.
Salisbury Cathedral’s major art exhibition, Celebrating 800 years of Spirit and Endeavour was curated by Jacquiline Creswell, the Cathedral’s Visual Arts Adviser, to mark the 800th anniversary of the founding of the city and its iconic cathedral and the audaciousness of those who went before.
“The exhibition is inspired by the ordinary people who came together in faith and resolve to achieve something extraordinary, and the exhibition seeks to articulate the potential that humankind has consistently shown over eight centuries. Collectively the works explore the human condition in different ways, seeking to understand what it is about people and faith that can inspire such vision and creativity.”
More parts of the iconic building have been opened up to the public now too including the refectory and the cathedral shop. Salisbury Cathedral is now open to visitors between 10.00am and 2.30pm Monday to Saturday. Time slots must be booked, entry is free of charge with donations welcome.
Liverpool has re-opened to visitors and is inviting people to share their experience of lockdown by writing how they feel on paper peace doves as part of a community art project that is expected to go on show early next year. They are currently working on a programme of new events and have also created an online pilgrimage which offers spiritual encounters at key points around the building which can be enjoyed from home. More can be found here.
York Minster, Guildford Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and Chester Cathedral have all announced a summer of socially spacious open-air cinema in their green spaces. The Luna cinema is coming to the Deans Park at York Minster and Guildford Cathedral while Chester’s Moonlight Flicks – a collaboration between local theatre, cinema and library, Storyhouse and Chester Cathedral launched its 2020 summer programme on the Dean’s Field on July 14.
Carlisle Cathedral has hailed a new chapter in its history after work on its Grade I listed Fratry area was finally completed – the realisation of the Cathedral’s vision as a place of discovery, celebration and challenge.
The £3.4m project has been fifteen years in the making and has transformed the Fratry and Undercroft areas into an education and events space, and cultural hub.
The Dean of Carlisle, the Very Revd Mark Boyling said:
“Now is an exciting stage in our 900-year history.
“Great work has been done over the last few months to complete our major building project and we are confident that people will be thrilled by what they see and experience here. The refurbished Fratry building looks magnificent. And we’ll be taking every care to make sure everyone feels safe.
“Our message to all our visitors is ‘Respect the rules and guidance, protect yourself and others, and enjoy your visit to this very special place.’
“We hope that the Cathedral will remain a beacon of hope for those in the North-West in what are still uncertain times,’ he added.
Prayer angels will transform the nave of Ripon Cathedral this Saturday with the launch of its Wing and a Prayer project. Over 10,000 paper angels with people’s prayers written on them have been donated to the cathedral during this joint fundraising venture to say thank you to health workers, carers and all those engaged in frontline services during the pandemic and to help support the vital work of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. It opens in the nave on August 1 and has so far raised over £130,000 to be shared equally between the Cathedral and the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.
Bristol, Gloucester and Durham Cathedrals hope to make announcements soon of new dates for their installations of Luke Jerram’s Museum of The Moon and Gaia that had been planned for 2020 pre-lockdown, and Bradford Cathedral is celebrating a first after becoming one of the finalists in ‘Small Visitor Attraction of the Year’ in this year’s White Rose Awards, the largest tourism awards ceremony in the UK.
The announcement marks the work of the Cathedral during its centenary year including its children and families programme; interfaith initiatives; hospitality and partnership work, events and attractions that have helped improve the visitor experience at the cathedral, as well as its engagement during lockdown.
All those cathedrals able to open have achieved the Visit Britain We’re Good To Go charter mark so we might look a bit different and you might have to behave a bit differently too. This will include hand sanitising stations, social distancing measures, new signage, fewer seats and the latest guidance strongly advises that face coverings should be worn by all those attending a place of worship where there may be other people present.
Many of our cathedrals have one way systems in place and are offering a booking system to limit numbers and maintain physical distancing.
Please visit the individual cathedral’s website before venturing out to avoid disappointment. All their websites and social media links can be found here.