It’s been a long time coming, but next week will see the re-opening of a renewed Newcastle Cathedral – re-fashioned and refreshed to be a dynamic, attractive community hub for the city and beyond.
It’s been a long time but Newcastle Cathedral is set to reopen very soon.
On Thursday 12 August, visitors will finally be able to see for themselves the city’s iconic historic and spiritual landmark, following its £6m transformation project, Common Ground in Sacred Space supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The Very Revd Geoff Miller, Dean of Newcastle, said:
“Common Ground in Sacred Space was launched as the Cathedral’s vision over ten years ago and has since involved the largest refurbishment since the works that took place here in 1882, when St Nicholas’ became a cathedral.
“At its heart, the project has been about creating a sustainable future for our magnificent Cathedral, celebrating its elegance, but also energising its mission to make this sacred place common ground. We are buzzing and bursting with excitement to welcome visitors of all faiths and none into our story.”
A service of rededication saw the Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Revd Christine Hardman, bless a newly carved stone floor plaque to mark the refurbishment and heard the Cathedral Choir sing a specially commissioned piece of music to mark the occasion.
Caedmon’s Hymn was composed by Northumbrian composer John Casken from a translation by Newcastle’s Canon for Music and Liturgy, The Revd Canon Clare MacLaren.
Canon Clare said:
“Caedmon’s Hymn is a truly Northumbrian piece which has not, to our knowledge, been professionally set to music before – and a wonderful reminder of God’s ongoing providence and creativity, to mark the ‘new creation’ that is our beautiful new building!
Read Canon Clare’s blog piece on the new musical commission here.
Common Ground in Sacred Space has seen significant improvements to the public space outside and an overhaul of the Cathedral’s interior to accommodate more visitors, events and activities. It has been sympathetically restored and re-modelled into an accessible visitor attraction, whilst at the same time preserving and celebrating its ancient religious roots.
In the Nave, new underfloor heating and flexible seating accommodates new styles of worship plus it will enable the Cathedral to host large-scale business and cultural events.
Improved and enhanced visitor facilities include a retail area and a new community café – Café 16 – an initiative by Northumberland-based charity The Oswin Project that will help prison leavers to get their lives back on track.
New features include interpretation panels, lively animation and a new sound and light show, which are designed to bring 900 years of history to life, chronicling the development of the Cathedral as the ancient heart of a modern city.
Interactive digital displays tell the stories of some of Newcastle’s most significant characters commemorated in the Cathedral’s ledger stones. These historic grave covers have been protected and conserved as part of the redevelopments.
Historic architectural features have been newly conserved and brought to life, including the 15th century baptismal font and the Cathedral’s oldest resident – a 14th century effigy of a medieval knight, thought to be Peter le Marechal, sword bearer to King Edward I.
Outside, the Cathedral’s new churchyard trail and landscaped terrace will provide a sanctuary to unwind and learn more about the Cathedral in the context of the city’s historic quarter. There will be a paved ribbon of ‘Newcastle Beatitudes’ (or Blessings), where inscribed roundels punctuate the pavement, inviting visitors to pause and reflect.
Alongside the Cathedral’s regular pattern of daily Christian worship and choral music, the Cathedral will launch an exciting programme of events and activities inspired by the city and the Cathedral’s past and present.
Regular history and architectural tours will take place, and themed craft activities for all the family include: Archaeology and Discovery, where visitors can explore some of the scientific discoveries and feats of engineering that are referenced in the Cathedral building; Creativity and Wellbeing activities that place mental wellbeing front and centre, and Party and Play, which acknowledges the hard work and commitment of communities this past year.
In the autumn, there will also be the long-anticipated return of Lantern Tower Tours, for those who dare climb the 162 steps of Newcastle Cathedral’s Lantern Tower to overlook the city. A Virtual Lantern Tower Tour has been developed for visitors that are unable, or not quite confident enough, to make the climb.
Newcastle Cathedral opens to the public from Thursday 12 August 2021.
For daily opening times, worship, music services, and events and activities for all the family, visit: newcastlecathedral.org.uk