Cathedrals Good to Go Even Further

What have we been up to this month? Things are moving along apace.

  • Southwell Minster, Carlisle and Gloucester Cathedrals have all been awarded Trip Advisor awards
  • York Minster is celebrated in a leading American travel writer’s book
  • Durham Cathedral is getting ready to open up further
  • Ely Cathedral’s family theatre show is a sell-out
  • Hereford’s Two Thomases exhibition can now be seen online
  • Worcester Cathedral welcomes back small tour groups
  • Lichfield Cathedral extends its opening hours for the Bank Holiday weekend
  • Gloucester reveals first images from the Of Earth And Sky project (pictured)
  • Coventry Cathedral’s £3.5m extension is on track to open next spring
  • Truro Cathedral has just been awarded £90,000 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to help alleviate the impact of Covid-19.

As lockdown eases, your cathedrals are Good to Go and going even further.

Every Church of England 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 visitors can be confident that cathedrals are taking all the necessary steps to help ensure people’s safety in line with latest Government and Public Health guidance.

NOTE: Please check ahead as opening times may have changed, you may have to book a ticketed slot at some cathedrals, and please be advised face-coverings are now mandatory in places of worship unless you are exempt.

The powerful poetry of the people of Gloucester inspired by their experiences in lockdown and of the world around them, went on display this week in a unique project by Gloucester Cathedral and the Gloucester Culture Trust.

Of Earth and Sky is made up of large-scale installations and features the work of 30 local poets and is curated by artist Luke Jerram and Gloucester-born spoken-word artist and poet JPDL.

The project is part of the cathedral’s Beacon of Hope campaign, set up in the wake of lockdown to ensure the Cathedral can play a crucial role in the local community’s recovery from the pandemic by raising £1 million by Christmas to enable a programme of cultural and social activities – including hosting Luke Jerram’s huge earth installation, Gaia in the Cathedral from October.

Work has started on the new £3.5m annexe at Coventry Cathedral that will see the building better opened up and more accessible to all sections of the community with a café and an education centre for community, school and external events. The extension is expected to be completed by May next year – in time for the cathedral to play its part when Coventry becomes UK City of Culture.

Worcester has just announced it is to welcome back a regular local tour group – made possible after being awarded a £5k grant from the Worcestershire Community Foundation enabling the cathedral to extend and improve its digital offer including new facilities to make tours safe and accessible. The cathedral was awarded the grant to ensure it continues to meet the needs of the community – especially vulnerable or isolated residents – following the success of its online engagement during lockdown.

The Rev’d Canon Dr Stephen Edwards said:

“We know this virtual connection makes a real difference to people who are isolated or seeking connection to this important place.”

Visitors can now enjoy Hereford Cathedral’s latest exhibition, the Two Thomases from the comfort of their own homes as well as in the Cathedral building with the launch of a new online version.

The exhibition tells the dramatic stories of the lives and deaths of St Thomas Becket and St Thomas Cantilupe to
mark the celebrations of both the 700th anniversary of the canonisation of St Thomas of Hereford and the 850th anniversary of the martyrdom of St Thomas of Canterbury.

Both became saints, miracle workers and the focus for pilgrimage. Their stories are told through books, documents and archive materials from Hereford Cathedral’s historic collections, plus loans of items rarely seen by the public. The exhibition is on display in the Mappa Mundi and Chained Library area until January 1. Watch it online below:

Ely Cathedral has just added an extra day to its ‘Treasure Island’ show that opens this week in The Dean’s Garden after tickets sold out within days, and Southwell Minster will be organising another date for visitors to see the progress of its National Lottery Heritage Fund project, the Leaves of Southwell, after its guided tour was also a sell-out.

Last year Southwell Minster was awarded a £1.9m grant to conserve and celebrate the internationally renowned Leaves of Southwell. These 13th century naturalistic carvings are amongst the finest in Europe and have long been a source of inspiration to artists and writers. The project will enable more people to visit and enjoy the Leaves, the Minster and its environs, secure the fabric of the building, extend the Education Garden as a place of health and wellbeing, and offer enhanced visitor interpretation and educational experiences.

The Canon Chancellor, Nigel Coates, who leads the project, said:

“The Leaves of Southwell are hugely significant as part of our artistic heritage but also have so much to teach us about the need to treasure the natural world.’

More here > Leaves of Southwell

This August Bank Holiday weekend sees Lichfield Cathedral extend its opening hours on Saturday 29 and Monday 31 August. Visitors are invited to explore the only medieval English Cathedral with three spires, the Close and to stop and enjoy a safely social-distanced picnic (weather-permitting) and on Saturday evening, Lichfield Cathedral will also be open from 18:30-10:00 for a special ‘Cathedral at Night’ event.

Lichfield Cathedral cathedrals at night

Durham Cathedral has announced that the cloister – made famous as a Harry Potter filming location – and the shop and restaurant will all now be available from Bank Holiday Monday.

The Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, Dean of Durham said:

“After our closure in March, we are overjoyed to be reopening more of our facilities over the Bank Holiday weekend. Since March, a lot of work has gone into making these spaces Covid- secure, and the team are poised to welcome the public back so that they can enjoy more of the historic spaces that make this UNESCO World Heritage Site so unique and special.”

There will be a track and trace system in place in the restaurant, and a one-way system throughout the Cloister and Undercroft as it is in the Cathedral to guide visitors safely through the shared space. Visitors will be asked to observe 2m distance from those not in their group and to wear a face covering while inside the cathedral and shop.

Southwell Minster, Gloucester and Carlisle cathedrals have all been named “Travellers’ Choice Winners” for 2020 by TripAdvisor.

This is a major coup for all these cathedrals; only ten per cent of businesses on TripAdvisor achieve this award. Find out more here.

York Minster was named “England’s top church” by American’s leading travel writer and broadcaster on Europe, Rick Steves, in his new book For the Love of Europe. We Tweeted about this here.

And Truro has just announced it has been awarded £90,000 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Heritage Emergency Fund set up to help address the impact of Covid-19 on those most in need across the heritage sector. The funding will be used to cover various costs across the cathedral, from the creation of visitor resources for reopening and urgent maintenance work on the building, to changes in IT to enable home-working, support for staff costs during lockdown and additional volunteer training.

Sean O’Neill, chief operating officer, said,

“As a self-funded organisation, Covid-19 continues to have a significant financial impact on Truro Cathedral and we are very grateful for the support provided by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. A long, challenging road lies ahead but the team continues to work tirelessly to find creative ways to adapt to the shifting environment and ensure that staff, volunteers, visitors and worshippers are safe and the cathedral is able to continue to provide pastoral, spiritual and practical support to its communities.
“We are passionate about doing everything possible to sustain the heritage of the cathedral for the benefit of all and we’re grateful that The National Lottery Heritage Fund is supporting us at this crucial time.”

Read more of the latest news about your local cathedral.