Schools Out

As the summer holidays get underway, we thought we’d share a little secret with you … well 42 little secrets!

Every one of our cathedrals – and our partners from the Church in Wales – has a rich summer programme for visitors to discover.

Portsmouth is bringing the outdoors in for a unique sensory experience, Peterborough has brought back its outdoor tours unlocking its secret histories, a baby dragon has made its home in Newcastle Cathedral, Worcester has a solo exhibition celebrating light and colour and Chichester has just announced it is re-opening its café two years after it was forced to close due to the pandemic.

All this plus outdoor theatre, cinema screenings, art exhibitions, family-friendly themed activities and events, and a daily programme of worship, space to light a candle or simply just to sit and be in our beautiful, historic sacred spaces.

And over 80 per cent of all our English Cathedrals and St Davids in Wales have been awarded a TripAdvisor Travellers ‘Choice Award 2022 – putting them in the top ten per cent of attractions worldwide.

A baby dragon will make its home in Newcastle Cathedral this summer – part of Newcastle Cathedral’s Brilliant Beasts summer events which invite visitors – old and young – to discover some of the beasts built into the fabric of this city centre cathedral. There’s a dragon parade through the streets and a sock puppet workshop, and a baby dragon in his own Dragon’s Lair thanks to a community exhibition plus there are lectures too on folklore.

Find out more here.

Schools Out Cathedrals

Portsmouth Cathedral will bring the outside indoors creating a feast for the senses with The Wild Cathedral sensory garden, which opens daily from Tuesday 16 August – Saturday 3 September with free admission.

Visitors will have the unique opportunity to explore the Cathedral for a sensory garden experience suitable for the whole family. Supported by the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Neighbourhood Grant from Portsmouth City Council, The Wild Cathedral will be open and accessible to all, with wheelchair accessibility throughout and plants at all levels allowing everyone to participate. There will also be the Cathedral’s addition to the Queen’s Green Canopy, a tree which will be planted in the Cathedral grounds after the event. Visitors will have the chance to touch, smell, taste and hear the garden as it grows, with interpretative materials on hand to provide further information and background on the plant species you encounter!

The Dean of Portsmouth, The Very Revd Dr Anthony Cane says

“I am excited to be bringing the outside inside the Cathedral in such an unusual way. The Wild Cathedral has its roots in much of the other work we do throughout the year, in being an open and accessible space, as well as our ongoing work to reduce our carbon footprint and engage our community in climate action.

In addition to daily opening, on Friday, 26 August and 2 September the Cathedral will be hosting Late Nights at The Wild Cathedral giving visitors the opportunity to explore the garden after dark with light, soundscapes, and projections.

Chichester Cathedral is hosting Together We Rise – a major exhibition of artworks from celebrated members of the Royal Society of Sculptors. The exhibition comprises over 30 artworks presented within the 940-year old place of worship, and across the grounds. The pieces respond to the artists’ experience of the pandemic, their resilience, sense of community and collective hope for the future.

And Chichester has just announced that its Cloisters Café & Garden – which closed as a result of the pandemic – will reopen late summer with a whole new look thanks to investment from the independent specialist caterer, Seasoned.

Peterborough has brought back outdoor tours of its historic grounds for August.

Starting with the early beginnings of the Benedictine Abbey, visitors will learn about the day-to-day domestic life of Peterborough’s monks, discovering fascinating details such as the Lavatorium, an elaborate fountain where monks would have washed before dinner, and the well in which, according to local folklore, the heart of Wulfhad son of King Wulfere of Mercia is buried.

They will hear how some of the monks spent their days creating illuminated manuscripts in the Abbey’s scriptorium, meticulously copying out Peterborough’s version of The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, now held in the Bodleian Library, and see the remains of the Infirmary where elderly monks were cared for.

The tour will also look at the exterior of Laurel Court in the Cloisters, used as a Girl’s School between 1870 and 1928 whose most famous pupil was Edith Cavell, the celebrated nurse who was executed during the First World War.

The tour takes place at 11.00am on selected Thursdays and Saturdays during August and lasts for 90 minutes, as well as on August Bank Holiday Monday.

Tickets are £8 per person (+ booking fee) and available via the Cathedral website here: Precincts Tour Tickets. Numbers are limited for each tour, so pre-booking is advised. Any remaining tickets will be on sale at the Cathedral Welcome Desk on the day.

Worcester Cathedral is hosting The Light Still Shines, an exhibition of still life oil paintings by Nicola Currie who was first inspired by the intense blues of the windows of Chartres Cathedral.

This work brings together paintings completed during lockdown until the present. Home-based for much of this period the artist’s work provides a reflection on the extraordinary beauty of the natural world and everyday objects.

For families the cathedral is exploring the natural world with a host of free family events looking at fossils, ancient rocks and relics, knights and kites, a bug hunt and there’s even a teddy bear’s picnic in the cathedral grounds in August. Plus there is a wide variety of trails to explore the Cathedral, including the interactive digital game ‘The Tombs are Alive’ (QR code reader required).

Bradford too is bringing back its free family activities during the Summer holidays. There are two free sessions on both Tuesday 26th July and Tuesday 30th August, between 10am and 12noon and 1pm and 3pm.

Maggie Myers, Bradford Cathedral’s Director of Education and Visitors, said:

“School’s out for summer and we’ll be here for families at the beginning and near the end of the long summer holidays to provide crafts and colouring, fun and friendship, trails and tours for children and their carers.

“You can bring the whole family to this beautiful location and enjoy what’s on offer, or take a wander round yourselves whilst we are open and enjoy the outside space as well as the building.” For more information – and to book your free place – please click here.