The Lord Mayor of Chester has officially granted permission to the company of the Chester Mystery Plays to perform at Chester Cathedral this summer.
The traditional Reading of the Banns ceremony took place at Chester Town Hall Square on Saturday May 12 in front of crowds of shoppers, visitors and tourists to the city.
Shepherds and singers from the 200-strong company processed from the historic Eastgate to the Town Hall where Town Crier David Mitchell beseeched Lord Mayor of Chester Razia Daniels to allow the plays to be put on.
Reading from a specially written script by award-winning playwright Deborah McAndrew, who has penned the full length version of the 2018 Chester Mystery Plays, Mr Mitchell began his proclamation with the words: “Worshipful Mayor of this fair city, We come today respectfully, Both men and women solemnly, With Chester’s children all,, To bow to your authority, And seek permission publicly, To play our plays full heartily, Within the city wall.
The Lord Mayor then responded: “People of Chester, the players of the city wish to perform The Mystery Plays in the summer of this year. These plays are part of the rich heritage of this historic city. It is with great pleasure, therefore, that I grant permission for the plays to be performed in the nave of the Cathedral from Wednesday 27th June to Saturday 14th July 2018. Best of luck to all!”
Chairman of the Chester Mystery Plays company Jo Sykes said: “In the 15th century, when the Reading of the Banns ceremony was first recorded, it would have been the ‘social media’ of its time, letting the people of the city know that the Chester Mystery Plays were being performed.
“I would like to thank the Lord Mayor, the Town Crier and the dedicated performers from our company for keeping this tradition and the Chester Mystery Plays alive in the 21st century.”
The Chester Mystery Plays are produced only once every five years in the city. The 2018 production is at Chester Cathedral from 27 June – 14 July. Tickets for Chester Mystery Plays are available here, by calling 01244 500959 or in person at the Chester Cathedral box office.
The new Dean of Chester is to be the Venerable Dr Tim Stratford a highly experienced and respected priest, who is a published author and has strong connections to the North West
Tim is currently the Archdeacon of Leicester. He grew up in Liverpool and started his working life as a qualified electronic engineer for Lucas CAV in its Research and Development section. He studied theology at Oxford and was ordained in 1986. He has significant experience of city and cathedral ministry from his time in Liverpool Diocese and through his work as Bishop David Sheppard’s Personal Chaplain. He has worked on some of Liverpool’s largest estates during his time as Rector of Kirkby and as a vicar in Norris Green. He has significant experience of urban and rural communities, diverse cultures and faith traditions gained while working in the Diocese of Leicester, where he holds his current post.
Tim said: “I am delighted to be joining the Cathedral and Diocese as Dean of Chester. When I was growing up in Liverpool, Chester was the historic city “over the water” where we could go for a treat and a day out. The opportunity to get to know the City and County of Cheshire from the inside and to make a difference will be a privilege.
“The Cathedral is a beautiful and historic building in the centre of the city that draws people to visit. But it is more than that too. It is a place where people can encounter the presence of God and get a sense of the things that ultimately matter beyond the here and now. I hope that over the years I serve as Dean the Cathedral will grow strong as a sign of our spiritual futures and heritage.”
The Bishop of Chester, Dr Peter Forster, said: “Archdeacon Tim Stratford has had an outstanding ministry in a variety of posts. He will receive a warm welcome as he returns to the North West. The post of Dean will draw together his evident gifts in leadership, worship, pastoral care and administration. This is an exciting opportunity both for Tim, and for Chester Cathedral.”
Canon Jane Brooke, Acting Dean, said: “Speaking on behalf of the Cathedral I want to say how delighted we are that Tim will be the next Dean of Chester. Tim brings considerable knowledge and experience to the post and the Cathedral Clergy are looking forward very much to working with him.”
Tim will take up his new role and be installed as the Dean of Chester on 8th September.
Chester Cathedral is bidding to bag a massive cash boost from the Tesco ‘Bags of Help’ initiative which sees grants of £4,000, £2,000 and £1,000 raised from carrier bag sales in Tesco stores awarded to local community projects.
Three groups in every Tesco region are shortlisted to receive the cash award and Chester Cathedral is one of the groups on the shortlist for all Tesco Chester stores. Chester Cathedral Bathroom Refurbishment We’re working with Donald Insall Associates on a charitable community project with Thorn Cross Prison. The scheme helps prisoners near to the end of their sentence to develop their vocational skills in construction, helping them to get back on to their feet when they are released. In urgent need of refurbishment, the scheme aims to fully renovate the cathedral bathrooms. The prisoners will fully refit the bathrooms, and will use skills such as plastering, tiling, joinery, appliance fitting and technical concrete pouring. It is measurable work experience like this that often leads to paid work opportunities outside of the prison.
Voting is open in all Tesco Chester stores throughout March and April. Each time you shop in Tesco, ask for a ‘Bags of Help’ token – and cast your vote.
ARK – the modern and contemporary sculpture exhibition, which we presented over summer 2017 won a second award this month.
In Chester Civic Trust’s 2018 New Year Honours, ARK was awarded the Chairman’s Special Award in a ceremony subtitled “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” In regard to ARK, the awards noted “An outstanding exhibitions that has won national acclaim and even attracted international coverage. The judges were unanimous in their praise of the quality of the exhibition and the fact that entry was free which encouraged and achieved widespread engagement.”
The winners of the 2017 Chester Cathedral Christmas Tree Festival have been announced with the Adrian Derbyshire Foundation and Birkenhead School scooping the top prizes.
The festival, which returned for a fifth year in 2017, ran throughout November and December and featured more than 50 majestic Christmas trees decorated by schools and businesses from across Chester & Cheshire. The cathedral welcomed over 43,000 visitors during the seven week period of the festival and more than 4,000 votes were cast in the festival’s favourite tree ballot!
The winners will be presented with an engraved trophy and will receive passes for the Chester Cathedral Falconry and Nature Gardens.
The festival raised a magnificent £11,500 for chosen local charity the Ultrasound Breast Cancer Scanner Appeal at The Countess of Chester Hospital.
Kathy Kenney, Community and Events Fundraiser for The Countess of Chester Hospital commented
“We were absolutely delighted to be chosen as the Festival of Trees’ charity this year. This will go a long way towards our Ultrasound Breast Scanner Appeal. Thank you to all who came and voted for their favourite tree and a big thank you to all our lovely volunteers who were happy to talk about the Appeal and the Trees and help sell voting slips. A particular mention must go towards Gloria Kenney who knitted decorations for the Kenneymoore tree, which were then sold for a donation for the Appeal”
Canon Precentor at Chester Cathedral, Jeremy Dussek, said:
“The Christmas Tree Festival is a wonderful addition to the cathedral at Christmas. We were very keen to do something that helped us to engage with the local community and welcome people into the building during such a special time of the year.
We were wowed by the creativity of all of our participants and our visitors thoroughly enjoyed looking at all of the trees. We are also very pleased that we have been able to support the Ultrasound Breast Cancer Scanner Appeal at The Countess of Chester Hospital through this initiative.”
Schools and businesses wishing to reserve a Christmas Tree for the 2018 festival should contact Sue Petranca at Chester Cathedral on 01244 500961 or email@example.com
ARK – the modern and contemporary sculpture exhibition, which took place at the cathedral earlier this year scooped the ‘Tourism Experience or Event of the Year’ award at the 13th Marketing Cheshire Annual Tourism Awards at the end of November.
The awards celebrate excellence and outstanding achievement by local businesses and individuals representing the great variety of businesses that contribute to Cheshire’s visitor economy, which was worth £3.3 billion and employed over 42,000 people in 2016.
ARK fought off strong competition from the Just So Festival, Blue Dot at Jodrell Bank, Chester Zoo and Big Heritage, and the win is testament to the groundbreaking nature of the exhibition, its ability to attract a new audience to the cathedral and its contribution to changing the culture landscape of the city.
Do make sure you visit the Pop Art Exhibition located just steps from the cathedral entrance, in Chester’s old, but magnificent library building on Northgate Street.
Have a look at the exhibition here.
The Dean of Chester, The Very Revd Professor Gordon McPhate, will retire in the autumn of 2017.
He has been in post for fifteen years after being appointed to the position by the Crown in 2002. He will bid farewell to the Diocese at an evensong service at 5.30pm on 28 September and will preach for the last time on 1 October at the 10am Eucharist service.
The Dean said: “I have much valued my time as Dean in cathedral and diocese, in the company of a great team of supportive colleagues throughout, responding to the challenge of building up and resourcing a vibrant Christian community, and the opportunity of proclaiming Christ in fine worship and social action.”
Vice Dean of Chester Cathedral, Canon Jane Brooke, said: “Under Gordon’s leadership the cathedral has reached out to many within the city and across the Diocese, and is known as a place of generous hospitality and welcome. Gordon has been a friend to many and is respected as a thoughtful preacher and a diplomat. The staff and clergy at Chester Cathedral and across the Diocese are saddened by his departure and will miss him keenly. We thank God for the ministry of those who are leaving us, and for those who remain, and for all who worship and support our cathedral.”
The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster said: “Professor Gordon McPhate has made a substantial contribution to the life of the cathedral during his time as Dean. The cathedral is now well-placed for the next phase of its life. Alongside his cathedral duties, Professor McPhate has also made a major contribution to the work of the General Medical Council, and to the University of Chester.”
The Dean trained as a priest in Cambridge, and holds degrees in Theology from both Cambridge and Edinburgh, specialising in the theology of Karl Barth and Medical Ethics. He was ordained and served his curacy in Southwark Diocese, where he later became a Minor Canon of the cathedral.
Since his appointment as Dean of Chester, he has become Professor of Theology and Medicine at the University of Chester where he teaches postgraduate courses in Science and Religion, and Bioethics. He is a member of the Society of Ordained Scientists.
The Dean qualified in Medicine at Aberdeen, took a Master’s degree in Clinical Biochemistry at Surrey, and a research Doctorate in Physiology at Cambridge on the regulation of gluconeogenesis in human metabolism. He trained as a pathologist, and held academic posts in Physiology at the University of London, and Pathology at the University of St. Andrews, becoming consultant chemical pathologist to the Fife Hospitals, and directing research in diabetic nephropathy. He is in both the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Pathologists, and is also an Adjudicator for the General Medical Council.
The collation, induction and installation of the new Dean of Blackburn took place on Saturday at Blackburn Cathedral.
The Very Rev. Peter Howell-Jones, 55, comes to Blackburn Diocese (The Church of England in Lancashire) from his previous role as Vice-Dean of Chester Cathedral.
Those present at the service included the Bishop of Blackburn, Rt Rev. Julian Henderson; the Bishop of Lancaster, Rt Rev. Geoff Pearson; the Archdeacon of Lancaster, The Venerable Michael Everitt; the Archdeacon of Blackburn, The Venerable Mark Ireland and the Canon Sacrist of Blackburn Cathedral, Canon Andrew Hindley. They were joined by the Dean of Chester, The Very Rev. Professor Gordon McPhate.
The new Dean was chosen via an appointment panel chaired by The Rt Hon Jack Straw, former MP for Blackburn and former Foreign Secretary.
As well as taking overall charge of Blackburn Cathedral as Dean of Blackburn, the new Dean will be a key member of the Diocesan Bishop’s Leadership Team. Peter is married to Siân and they have four grown-up children.
Speaking after the service Dean Peter said: “I have been overwhelmed by the level of support and the turnout today. It was lovely to see so many people here from so many different parts of the diocese. The weather has been fantastic and I am pleased to be coming home, as a Lancashire lad born and bred.
“I will now be taking time to listen to people and hear more about the current issues in the town and around the diocese and I am looking forward to exploring how Blackburn Cathedral can continue to develop and live out its aim to be ‘Good News for Lancashire’.”
He continued: “The Diocese is so clearly focussed on growth and mission through Vision 2026: Healthy Churches Transforming Communities and I hope to lead the Cathedral in actively contributing to this work in the years to come.”
The Cathedral’s Canon Sacrist, Andrew Hindley added: “It has been a great day. The service successfully mixed tradition with modernity and we hope Peter feels affirmed in his ministry.”
And Bishop Julian commented: “I’m thrilled we have now got to this moment. Peter is just the right kind of person to help us with our leadership here in the diocese. I am looking forward to seeing how the Cathedral will contribute to our Vision work under Peter’s guidance and to working with him for many years to come.”
The service on Saturday was attended by clergy and parishioners from across Lancashire, alongside civic representatives, including Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire, The Rt Hon. Lord Shuttleworth and Lady Shuttleworth.
Also at the Cathedral was Councillor Faryad Hussain and Miss Sariah Hussain representing Blackburn with Darwen Council and the Mayors and Mayoresses of Burnley, Chorley, Preston, Hyndburn, Ribble Valley, West Lancashire, Wyre and Rossendale Councils.
Additional visiting dignitaries included the Dean Emeritus of Braunschweig Cathedral, The Very Rev. Joachim Hempel and the Dean of Bloemfontein Cathedral, Fr Mosokotso Lazarus Mohapi. Both cathedrals are in Lancashire’s ‘link Dioceses’ of Braunschweig, Germany and Free State, South Africa.
19 December 2016
After the hugely successful production of the Chester City Passion last Easter, Chester Mystery Plays in association with Churches Together, Theatre in the Quarter and Link Up have agreed to mount this astonishing performance once more on the streets of Chester on Good Friday, 14 April 2017 at 10.30am.
Those involved last year were astounded and profoundly moved by the thousands of people who came into the City to watch the story of Christ’s passion unfold. The company used Chester’s streets and rows as a theatre, telling the story from Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem (under the Eastgate Clock) to the Crucifixion outside the West Door of the cathedral. The 100 strong community cast was joined by children from local schools, Roman Soldiers , Karamba Samba and the Town Crier.
“So many people expressed a desire for this unique production to be seen again,” commented Jo Sykes, Chairman of the Chester Mystery Plays Company. “We all felt we should make it happen despite the inevitable funding difficulties.”
Matt Baker will return to direct the production and his music will be once again be heard on the streets of Chester. “I’m really happy to be able to be a part of this very special event again” said Matt, “and to use our fantastic city centre as a backdrop. We’ll be hoping for the glorious weather we had last time to make it perfect!”
Canon Jeremy Dussek, canon Precentor at Chester Cathedral, said:
“The City Passion is for everyone and we invite congregations and churches to join us as Chester is turned into a living Jerusalem and Calvary.”
Andy Glover of Link-Up added:
“The Chester City Passion was a wonderful project to be involved in. The churches across the city worked together with the Mystery Plays and Theatre in the Quarter to produce a spellbinding celebration of theatre and faith. We are really looking forward to doing it again and to welcoming thousands of people to this exceptional event.”
The performance lasts one hour and allows Christians to return to their own churches to commemorate Good Friday. For further details please contact the Canon Precentor’s Office at Chester Cathedral: firstname.lastname@example.org
28 November 2016
The Memorial Service commemorating the life of Major General Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor KG CB CVO OBE TD CD DL, 6th Duke of Westminster, took place today (Monday, 28th November 2016) at 2pm at Chester Cathedral.
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh were represented by The Prince of Wales. The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Eugenie of York (representing The Duke of York), The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Lady Rose Gilman, The Duke of Kent (representing The Duchess of Kent), Prince and Princess Michael of Kent and Princess Alexandra, the Hon. Lady Ogilvy also attended. Prince Henry of Wales was represented by Miss Helen Asprey, The Earl and Countess of Wessex were represented by Major General John Crackett and The Princess Royal was represented by Mrs. David Bowes-Lyon.
Members of overseas Royal families included Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Bahrain (representing King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa) and Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa; from Saudi Arabia, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and his son Prince Salman bin Mohammed Al Saud and Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece (representing King Constantine II of Hellenes).
The guests, numbering some 1,400 were led by the 7th Duke of Westminster, the late Duke’s widow Natalia Duchess of Westminster and their immediate family and also included representativies of regional and local government; friends, military and civic representatives, charities and the clergy, together with staff and pensioners of the Grosvenor Estate.
The private service, which lasted for just over an hour, was led by the Dean of Chester, the Very Revd Professor Gordon McPhate. The music was led and supported by the Cathedral team with choristers from the Cathedral and Chester Male Voice Choir, bell ringers from local churches and the Manchester Brass Ensemble.
Distinguished and influential tenor, Ian Bostridge CBE, accompanied by Andrew Wyatt, Assistant Director of Music at Chester Cathedral, performed Panis Angelicus by Cesar Franck (1822 – 1890).
Readings were given by the 7th Duke of Westminster, who read his father’s favourite poem, If, by Rudyard Kipling; Richard Lyttleton, cousin of the late Duke, who read Revelation 21: 1-7 and The Duke of Cambridge, who read the Garter Prayer, part of the annual service for Knights of the Order of the Garter, with which the late Duke had been honoured.
Tributes were given by Jeremy Newsum, Executive Trustee of the Grosvenor Estate who spoke of his long business partnership with the late Duke; General Sir Timothy Granville-Chapman, Programme Director of the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre who spoke of the Duke’s military career and Andrew Hay, a close family friend and relative.
Lady Edwina Snow, the late Duke’s second daughter read her own, ‘A letter to my father’ an excerpt from which reads,
“You taught me so much.
Fight for what you believe in.
Don’t ever give up.
If you are knocked down, dust yourself off…..and get back on your feet.”
Donations were invited to the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC), an initiative of the late Duke to create a new 21st century rehabilitation centre for the armed services and the nation.
After the service The Duchess of Westminster thanked the Cheshire Constabulary, the Dean and staff of Chester Cathedral and the Leader, Officers and staff of Cheshire West and Chester Council, together with other emergency services, for their tremendous assistance in the event.
5 September 2016
A centenary service of celebration to commemorate the 1916 Battles of the Somme and Jutland will be held at Chester Cathedral on 11 September at 3.30pm.
The Revd Martyn Gough RN, Deputy Chaplain of the Fleet, will preach and the service will be preceded by a parade through the city starting at 3.00pm at Chester Castle.
The service will include local stories from local people about their experiences and stories of the battles.
The service will be attended by the Lord Lieutenant and High Sheriff of Cheshire, MPs, military figures alongside members of the Merican Regiment and HMS Albion.
The 5th Earl of Chester Battalion, a unit who fought in the battle of the Somme, will be in attendance. The Battle of the Somme was the largest battle of WW1 on the Western Front and saw more than one million men wounded or killed.
The Battle of Jutland was the largest naval battle and the only full-scale clash of battle ships during WWI. HMS Chester, named after the city, was part of the battle and on 31 May at 17.30 came under attack from the Germans.
During the attack a 16-year-old boy named Jack Cornwell was severely wounded. He died and was buried in a communal grave but the story of his heroism and bravery spread. The public demanded a reburial and he was buried on 29 July with full naval honours with 1,000 Scouts in attendance.
On 15 September, the London Gazette announced Cornwell had been posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross by King George V, recommended by Admiral David Beaty.
Canon Precentor at Chester Cathedral, Jeremy Dussek, said:
“We are very much looking forward to commemorating the Battles of the Somme and Jutland in a fitting way with worship and prayer at the cathedral. We are immensely proud to honour the bravery of the people of Chester who were involved.”
All are welcome to attend the service and tickets are not required.
6 June 2016
Canon Glyn Conway celebrated his golden jubilee of ministry with Chester Cathedral yesterday.
Canon Conway has been associated with Chester Cathedral since his teenage years.
At 18-years-old he was a church youth club member in Rhyl and regularly stayed at the Retreat House while attending services in Chester Cathedral.
Canon Conway said: “Chester Cathedral is my spiritual home. After being there so many years I’m still finding new things that I haven’t seen or noticed before, it’s very interesting.”
Ordained as a priest in St. Asaph Cathedral in 1966, Canon Conway served in the Parish of Wrexham, Holywell and later in Upton by Chester where he retired a decade ago.
Regularly in the cathedral a few days a week, Canon Conway enjoys speaking to congregation and visitors among his other pastoral care duties.
Canon Conway said: “I always welcome everybody and remind them history is interesting but the cathedral is in no way a museum and I encourage people to join me in reflection. The thing I enjoy most is talking to tourists – the atmosphere hits them and perhaps they hadn’t realized they may have a spiritual side”
The international aspects and global connections through ministry have always been very important to Canon Conway who has traveled with his wife to India and Ghana. He is also a canon at Accra Cathedral in Ghana.
Canon Conway said: “I feel it’s a great privilege to share my golden jubilee with everybody. It’s an opportunity to give thanks to ministry which is unique to other professions; a priest actually impacts people in all the main aspects of life so you draw very close to people.”
Over the years Canon Conway has seen the cathedral change with the times through increased accessibility to the public and the modernization of services.
Canon Precentor Jeremy Dussek said: “In the 5 June Eucharist we not only happily reminisced the years past but looked fondly toward the future and coming years. We were overjoyed to celebrate this momentous anniversary with Glyn.”
Canon Conway took the golden jubilee service alongside the Dean of Chester who preached.
The Very Revd Professor Gordon McPhate, Dean of Chester, said: “It means so much to us that Glyn chose to serve our cathedral, our congregation, our visitors and our city so faithfully for the past five decades. Fifty years is a long time and with our heartfelt thanks we wish him many more happy years to come.”
1 June 2016
A memorial exhibition commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland has taken up residency inside Chester Cathedral for the next year.
Most notably, the exhibition highlights the youngest person to receive the Victoria Cross during WWI – a 16-year-old boy who died in battle.
In 1915, 16-year-old Cornwell enlisted as a Boy Sailor in the British Navy against his father’s wishes and after basic and gun layer training was posted to HMS Chester on 2 May 1916, three weeks before the Battle of Jutland.
The Battle of Jutland was the largest naval battle and the only full-scale clash of battle ships during WWI.
At the beginning of the war, British ships had blockaded the German coast but in May 1916 the Germans were ordered to leave harbour to lure the British out and demolish them.
On 31 May at 17.30 the HMS Chester came under attack from the Germans.
During the attack, all the crew on Cornwell’s forward gun were killed. Cornwell was severely wounded but stood and remained at his post.
Medics arrived on the HMS Chester to find Cornwell at his post waiting for orders, with shards of steel piercing his chest. They transferred him to Grimsby General Hospital where he died just before his mother’s arrival on 2 June.
Cornwell was buried in a communal grave but the story of his heroism and bravery spread. The public demanded a reburial and he was buried on 29 July with full naval honours with 1,000 Scouts in attendance.
On 15 September, the London Gazette announced Cornwell had been posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross by King George V, recommended by Admiral David Beaty.
To commemorate Cornwell’s courage, the Scout Association created the Cornwell Scout Badge in his memory, given to those displaying overwhelmingly high character, devotion to duty, courage and endurance.
The HMS Chester memorial and Cornwell exhibition can be seen in Chester Cathedral’s South Transept along with Admiral Beaty’s recommendation to the King and the London Gazette’s announcement of Cornwell’s award. Entry is free and all are welcome.
31 May 2016
Chester Cathedral will celebrate HM the Queen’s 90th birthday with two special services.
A choral evensong will take place on Saturday 11 June at 4pm to commemorate the occasion. The cathedral will also celebrate the Queen’s birthday as part of the 10am service on Sunday 12 June.
Canon Precentor Jeremy Dussek said: “Last year we celebrated the Anniversary of the Queen as the longest serving monarch in British history with a special evensong that packed out the cathedral with over 500 people. We are excited and expecting similar numbers for these services in June as well.”
Chester Cathedral has had a steady relationship with the Royal Family, as the Earl of Chester is Prince Charles.
Recent royal visits to the cathedral include Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla who most visited in 2014 and a visit from Princess Anne in 2010.
HM the Queen last visited Chester Cathedral in 2004.
Vice Dean Canon Peter Howell-Jones said: “We are expecting large numbers and invite everyone celebrate the Queen’s birthday alongside us. Of course our services are never ticketed and all are welcome to attend.”
Chester Cathedral will celebrate the Queen’s birthday with services on Saturday 11 June, 4pm, and Sunday 12 June, 10am.
31 May 2016
On Saturday 21 May, past and present choristers from Chester Cathedral Girls’ Choir joined together for a Festival Evensong celebrating 20 years of singing.
The Girls’ Choir was founded in 1996 to give girls the same opportunities as boy choristers within the English choral tradition – the lifeblood that turns our cathedrals from silent spaces into resounding places of glory.
An astounding 220 members of the congregation packed out the Quire of the cathedral for the special service where 24 former choristers joined the current 12 girl choristers and 10 lay clerks.
The anniversary service was organized by Director of Music Philip Rushforth and former chorister Elizabeth Coxhead.
Miss Coxhead said: “The 20th anniversary celebrations were particularly joyous. Seeing familiar faces brought back fond memories of looking at each other across the choir stalls every day. It was wonderful to be in the cathedral again and to be reminded of how beautiful the building is.
“It was very special that the Girls’ Choir received their surplices (the white robe that goes on top of the colourful red cassock) during the anniversary evensong – another sign of Chester Cathedral’s support of women in the church community.”
Mr Rushforth, who was appointed in 2007, said: “The singing was superb, it was as if the former choristers had never been away and it was one of the happiest occasions I can remember in the cathedral.”
After the service, the choristers attended a private drinks reception and dinner hosted by Chester-based restaurateur Gianni Poletti and the Refectory Café staff.
Throughout the evening, reminiscences and stories were told by past choristers boosting the nostalgia of the night.
Miss Coxhead is a former girl head chorister and attributes her professional, working life to her time in the Girls’ Choir: “Performing at the highest level with other highly skilled musicians has led me to a career in the arts, and at the moment I am working for BBC Radio 3 with the BBC Singers and am just about to become Assistant Producer on Radio 3’s In Tune programme. I still sing every week; for the last seven years I’ve sung at St Luke’s Chelsea in London. I have my cathedral chorister training to thank for where I am today. I can’t recommend it highly enough to new recruits.”
Miss Coxhead is not the only chorister to accredit important life lessons to time spent with the Girls’ Choir.
Former chorister Suzi Humphries said: “Being a member of the Chester Cathedral Girls’ Choir was a wonderful experience. It formed long-lasting friendships and taught us how important things like discipline and team-work are. The lessons we learned in the choir have really helped all of us as we have grown up, with some of the girls now having careers in the music industry. Singing evensong with the choir again was amazing. With busy lives, careers and children, a lot of the girls no longer sing regularly, but meeting up for the anniversary has really encouraged us to get together to perform again.”
The choirs at Chester Cathedral look fondly to the future with many challenges in store; 1 October will see the second annual Last Night of the Proms and 21 October will see the London Sinfonia – a magnificent concert of music with Stephen Layton and Philip Rushforth conducting.
The Director of Music is always interested to hear from prospective parents of choristers. He can be reached on 01244 500974 or email email@example.com.
18 April 2016
The Tower & Spires cycling path launch is growing in popularity as public officials and local businesses come together for the path’s launch event on Saturday 30 April.
The launch event, being held at Chester Cathedral Falconry and Nature Gardens, on the Dean’s Field, will run from 10am to 2pm with stalls from cycle shops, activity groups, Chester Cycling Campaign, and Cycle Touring Clubs.
To date, three specialist cycle shops are confirmed for attendance including Sixty Nine Cycles, the Edge Cycleworks and the Bike Factory.
Also in attendance will be Chester MP Chris Matheson, Archdeacon Ian Bishop and Vice Dean Peter Howell-Jones with a photo shoot from 11.30 to 12.30.
Sixty Nine Cycles has promised to bring a mechanic and set up a “bike doctor” to check over cyclists’ bikes throughout the day.
Chester Cathedral Falconry and Nature Gardens will hold flying displays throughout the day, weather permitting, with 11 different species of birds of prey.
There will also be reptiles on show, where visitors can get up close and personal with snakes, lizards and cockroaches.
Six friendly Jacob sheep live on the Dean’s Field as well and enjoy being bucket fed by the public.
The 40-mile cycling trail of historic Chester churches has been organized to encourage people to get out and explore the countryside and heritage.
The Tower & Spires tour starts at Chester Cathedral and then takes in St. John’s church, Chester, St. James’ church, Christleton, and other Anglican churches in Waverton, Hargrave, Bunbury, Tattenhall, Fardon, Aldford and Bruera.
A map of the route will be available free-of-charge from the Chester Cathedral welcome desk and at various churches along the Tower & Spires route from Saturday 30 April 2016 onwards.
18 April 2016
Chester Cathedral is proud to send young chorister, Joe Martin, to the prestigious ‘Evening with Cathedral Choristers of Britain’ which will take place at St Paul’s Cathedral on Wednesday 27 April at 7.30pm.
Joe Martin, from Upton High School, is 12 years old and has been singing with the cathedral choir for four years.
He was chosen to attend the concert as he is Head Chorister of the Chester Cathedral boys’ choir and has a particularly fine voice.
The concert at St Paul’s will bring together for the first time choristers from many of the nation’s cathedrals and colleges in support of the cathedral music trust, Friends of Cathedral Music.
Philip Rushforth, Director of Music at Chester Cathedral says, “We are enormously proud that Joe will represent our cathedral for a cause that is especially dear to me. Never before has the future of choral music within our cathedrals and churches been in such peril and we must do all we can to sustain this important tradition. Joe and all his other colleagues must not be one of the last generations to enjoy the training and experience it brings. ”
Proceeds from the concert will go towards the new Diamond Fund for Choristers which is aimed at relieving hardship, providing bursaries, and helping choristers develop and flourish.
Tickets are available from www.ticketmaster.co.uk/choristersconcert
7 April 2016
The Chester Cathedral in LEGO build will observe a year of progress with a first birthday celebration on Saturday 16 April.
The public are invited to join cathedral staff and volunteers in the celebration and activities as the Chester Cathedral in LEGO project turns 1 year old.
The party will include a build competition where children can build their own creations for a chance to win a mystery prize.
LEGO spring flowers will also be available for a donation of £2 where the donor gets to place the flower in one of the green areas of the plinth.
At one year in, the Chester Cathedral in LEGO build boasts over 35,000 placed bricks, nearly completing the first level of the model.
When finished the build will be comprised of 350,000 individual LEGO bricks creating a scale-model of the ancient cathedral and grounds.
As part of the cathedral’s education outreach, the build allows the public to see and take part in the building of the cathedral while exploring 1,000 years of history.
At just £1 per brick, the public are able to place their own brick directly onto the module being built, which once completed is added to the model.
Funds raised by the LEGO project directly fund the Chester Cathedral Education Trust, working to secure the employment of a full-time education officer.
The Chester Cathedral in LEGO first birthday party will be Saturday 16 April throughout the day. Admission is free.
6 April 2016
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of Chester Cathedral’s Girls’ Choir and to mark the occasion a special service will be held, which, like all cathedral services, is open to the public.
On Saturday 21 May, a Festival Evensong will be sung by the Girls’ Choir and former girl choristers.
The English choral tradition is the lifeblood that turns our cathedrals from silent spaces into resounding places of glory, with some of the greatest music from the fourteenth century to the present day.
There is no choir school at Chester and the choristers are recruited from schools all over the city and surrounding area. The cathedral itself provides bursaries for the choristers and this level of support, together with the commitment of the choir members, is absolutely vital to ensure consistently high musical standards.
The cathedral Girls’ Choir was founded in 1996 to give them the same opportunities as the boy choristers to sing some of the greatest music ever written. The boy and girl choristers sing separately but on occasion sing together with the men of the choir. This enables the choir to perform larger works, sometimes with instrumentalists, which enhances the musical and worshipping life of the cathedral considerably.
Some former girl choristers from Chester Cathedral have gone on to sing professionally and work with professional ensembles such as the BBC Singers.
All are welcome to attend the Girls Choir Festival Evensong on Saturday 21 May at 4.15pm. Tickets are not required.
Philip Rushforth, Director of Music, is always interested to hear from prospective parents of choristers. Please call him on 01244 500974 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and he will be delighted to talk about what is required.
29 March 2016
A 40-mile cycling trail of historic churches around Chester has been organised to encourage people to get out and explore the countryside and heritage.
The Tower & Spires tour starts at Chester Cathedral and then takes in St John’s church, Chester, which is the oldest standing building in the city still in use for its original purpose.
The next stop on the route is St James’ church, Christleton, which had Anglo-Saxon beginnings but was extensively rebuilt in the Georgian and Victorian periods.
The trail also takes in the Anglican churches in Waverton, Hargrave, Bunbury, Tattenhall, Fardon, Aldford and Bruera.
The cycle tour project has been organised by the Diocese of Chester with funding from Cheshire West and Chester Council and Active Cheshire (an organisation which seeks to enable people to get active on a regular basis).
It will be the fifth in a series of cycle trails designed by the sustainable transport charity Sustrans in partnership with the Church of England.
Emily Allen, Church Buildings Development Officer for the Diocese of Chester, said: “It’s been great working with the nine churches on the trail, and the cathedral, on developing this project. We hope people will enjoy visiting these fascinating places of worship.”
A map of the route has been produced and will be available free from the Chester Cathedral welcome desk, and various churches along the Tower & Spires route, from Saturday 30 April 2016 onwards.
As well as the full 40-mile route, there is a 28-mile option, and a rural-only ride with details given on the map.
The Tower & Spires trail will be officially launched at the Dean’s Field by Chester Cathedral Falconry and Nature Gardens on Saturday 30 April, 10am to 2pm.
Groups of cyclists will be setting off from Dean’s Field as well as a fun event for families, with stalls promoting local bike shops, cycling clubs, healthy living and local charities. Our main aim is to encourage people to get on their bikes and explore the local area. Attending the event will be MP Chris Matheson; Vice Dean of Chester, Peter Howell-Jones, and Ian Bishop, Arch Deacon from the Diocese of Chester.
16 March 2016
Just in time for Easter, the Chester Cathedral Falconry and Nature Gardens is now home to six Jacob sheep.
Jacobs are small sheep, closely resembling a goat, that are piebald and can grow between two and six horns. These sheep are a rare breed descending from an ancient breed of Old World sheep.
One ewe called Barbara and her two 2-week-old lambs as well as two additional 1-year-old lambs make up the falconry’s mini-flock.
The lambs will be named by the public in a poll running on the falconry’s Facebook page.
Tommy McNally, Head Falconer, said: “We’re looking forward to undertaking this adventure of raising and caring for the six new sheep at our centre. The sheep will graze freely on the Dean’s Field and the public will be able to interact with them whilst learning about nature and conservation.”
Jacob sheep are laidback and usually friendly towards people. It is hoped the sheep will allow the public to bucket feed them, once they have become acclimatised to their new home.
The flock have strong ties to the cathedral in a religious context as Jacob sheep were first mentioned in the Book of Genesis.
Jacob was leaving his family and setting out on his own. He walked through his family’s flock and picked out any sheep that was black or speckled, taking those sheep to be his own.
The Vice Dean, Canon Peter Howell-Jones, said: “We’re very happy to have the space and resources available to make these links to the cathedral’s purpose. Linking historically and religiously to areas within Chester, it’s exciting to be the home to the only sheep within the city walls.”
2 March 2016
For just over a year now, a colony of honeybees have called the Chester Cathedral estate their home.
The bees have now produced their second batch of honey, an enormous amount, weighing over 45 kilos.
The beehives were adopted within the Chester Cathedral estate in the early spring of 2015 and later became a part of the Chester Cathedral Falconry and Nature Gardens’ educational outreach. The beehives help to educate visitors not only of the inner workings of a bee colony but also the importance of conservation and locally sourced goods.
Head Falconer Tommy McNally said: “One objective of Chester Cathedral Falconry and Nature Gardens is to demonstrate the symbiotic relationship between people and nature. We want to show how Chester Cathedral’s historic links to falconry, beekeeping and gardening are still relevant today.
The beehives and honey are one indication that bees and people can work together with both parties benefiting; the bees survive, our plants are pollenated, and we all end up with honey.”
The honey is harvested sympathetically to the bees. Honey acts as a back-up food source for the bees when weather is poor and pollen cannot be collected. When Chester Cathedral honey is harvested only the excess is gathered, leaving more than enough for the bees’ survival.
These bees are the only local colony as well as the only bees located within the city walls, which may explain the massive production of honey.
This local honey is sold in the Chester Cathedral Gift Shop however stock is limited.
17 February 2016
On Thursday 28 April at 1.10pm, Carl Bahoshy will be performing a special organ recital at Chester Cathedral with proceeds benefitting the charity Iraqi Christians in Need.
Iraqi Christians in Need (ICIN) is a charity that was formed to aid needy Christians in Iraq who are displaced, persecuted, are suffering or are living in destitute conditions due to war. The charity also supports Christian churches in Iraq that are inundated with people seeking refuge by providing direct financial relief to displaced refugees in northern Iraq.
Vice Dean Canon Peter Howell-Jones said: “We’re excited for Mr. Bahoshy’s recital this April. Those who attend are in for a brilliant performance indeed and even better, this recital will affect something wider than our musical audience as well as the cathedral.”
Mr Bahoshy is first generation British born and bred to Iraqi parents. In 2015, he announced he would be giving a series of organ and piano recitals with 100 per cent of proceeds benefitting ICIN.
Mr Bahoshy said: “I have an inherent concern for the people there who have, virtually overnight, been displaced from their homes, had their properties seized and are scattered across camps, churches and schools in northern Iraq, Syria and Jordan. Monies channeled through the charity are helping provide direct financial relief in the form of medical aid and shelter.”
Chester Cathedral hosts one of the most extensive series of organ recitals in the country, with weekly Thursday recitals throughout the year. Recitalists from all over the world come here to perform, along with the cathedral’s own organists.
Director of Music Philip Rushforth said: “Carl contacted me about performing at one of our weekly recitals to aid ICIN and I thought it was a great idea. While Carl performs, a slideshow of images related to needy Iraqi’s will be shown. We’re very excited as this is the first time one of our recitals will have a theme such as this.”
Tickets for this event can be booked online at www.chestercathedral.com, over the phone at 01244 500959 or in person at the admissions desk. Tickets will also be available at the door on 28 April, the day of the performance.
19 January 2016
The Reverend Denise Williams was welcomed to Chester Cathedral as the new Priest Vicar last Sunday, 17 January.
Denise has worked for 44 years in the pastoral care field, firstly as a primary school teacher and then as a deputy head teacher. She spent 17 years as head teacher and later 12 years in parish ministry, which she says, “has been a roller coaster of enjoyment.”
Her work led to involvement in school governing bodies, becoming vice chair of a community school and chair of a church school. She has been a SIAMS inspector and is a member of the Board of Education whilst serving on the executive committee of the Liverpool Diocese.
Ordained in 2003, Denise left teaching to serve at Christchurch, Padgate, and retired as Team Rector for Warrington East last February.
Denise said: “I am very excited to be involved in the life and vision of the cathedral as Priest Vicar at this time.”
With her new role at Chester Cathedral, her primary focus will be pastoral care among the congregation.
Canon Peter Howell-Jones, Vice Dean, said: “With our cathedral engaging with increasing numbers of people, it is important that we ensure emotional and spiritual support, provided through pastoral care, for those coming into our building. We’re very happy to be able to welcome a Priest Vicar back to Chester Cathedral and we’re excited to be working with Denise.”
19 January 2016
Chester Cathedral experienced a Christmas like no other, reviving the true spirit of Christmas through each of its 32,000 visitors this winter season.
For the second year running The Snowman has seen three completely sold-out performances in the early Christmas season. The packed-out performance featured the acclaimed film accompanied by a 25-piece professional orchestra, providing a truly magical experience for all in attendance.
Following the success of last Christmas’s The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe exhibition, Chester Cathedral hosted the timeless Dickens’ tale A Christmas Carol in exhibition form throughout the festive season.
Forty-seven majestic Christmas trees, decorated by 35 local businesses and 12 local schools, transformed the cathedral cloisters into beautifully-lit walkways from late November to early January. Each tree, kindly donated by the Eaton Estate, was sponsored and decorated by local schools and businesses, raising a total of £5700 for the NeuroMuscular Centre.
The Snowman was the winning business, basing their tree off Carrot Productions’ Snowman Tour. Dee Point Primary was the third-time winner for the schools, with a tree playing tribute to the WI. For the first time, as voting came very close, Chester Cathedral is awarding a highly commended award to Kingsley St Johns CE Primary School, with a tree based around the nativity.
Services were fuller than ever throughout Christmastide. A ‘Singing for Syrians’ service was held in conjunction with a carol service and saw over 800 people in attendance. This service benefited Christian Aid for Syrians living in war zones by raising over £1500 in Syrian aid. Services on Christmas day packed the church to full capacity and services throughout the season saw a 25% boost in attendance from 2014.
What’s to come in 2016:
Storming into 2016, Chester Cathedral shows no sign of slowing down with world-class exhibitions, concerts, film nights, increasingly progressive endeavours and the usual services.
12 January 2016
World renowned Hallé to perform in Chester Cathedral
Chester Cathedral will be hosting a concert by the renowned symphonic ensemble, Hallé, on Saturday 16 April, from 7:30pm.
The concert will be conducted by Ryan Wigglesworth, one of Britain’s leading classical composers, as well as the Halle’s principal guest conductor.
The programme will include Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 19 (in F major, K 459), Beethovan’s Overture: Leonore No. 2 (Op. 72a), and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 2 (The Little Russian, in C minor).
Tickets range from £15 to £25 and can be booked online here or by phone on 01244 500 959. Pre-concert dining will be available but booking is essential.
11 January 2016
The Royal School of Needlework (RSN) celebrates the beautifully intricate art of hand embroidery, and will come to Chester Cathedral, for the first time, to stage an exhibition called For Worship & Glory.
This extraordinary exhibition will commence on Wednesday 3 February until Sunday 28 February 2016 and will take place in the Chapter House. It will feature more than 50 pieces of hand embroidery work, many created as acts of devotion and worship for churches from the 18th – 20th centuries.
The RSN is the international centre of excellence for this art and is based at Hampton Court Palace, Richmond, Surrey with patronage from Her Majesty the Queen. For those wishing to learn more about this exquisite and historic art, bespoke one-day and a three-day courses for all stitch abilities, given by expert RSN tutors, can be booked at Chester Cathedral. Beginners and enthusiasts can also attend two lectures by the Chief Executive of the Royal School of Needlework, Dr Susan Kay-Williams.
Dr Susan Kay-Williams says,”The Royal School of Needlework is delighted to be able to bring its celebrated exhibition of ecclesiastical embroidery to Chester Cathedral. We hope it will give people from all over the region the opportunity to come and see these wonderful works, many by unknown stitchers, all exhibiting high quality workmanship.”
Embroidery has been used as part of worship for centuries on vestments, altar cloths, banners and other church furnishings. The centrepiece of this exhibition will be six of the famous Litany of Loreto pieces. Worked by nuns and donated to the RSN, they are exceptionally fine and worth close inspection. There are chasubles from the 18th century; an antependium designed by Matthew Webb, who was a pupil of renowned artist Edward Burne-Jones, and a number of pieces made at the RSN including a beautifully worked rendition of the Good Shepherd given back to the RSN in 2011.
There will also be a number of RSN students’ final pieces from over 50 years ago, which include a range of Christian motifs and symbols.
11 January 2016
On Sunday 24th January, Christians from across the churches of Cheshire will come together at Chester Cathedral for a service to mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Leaders from the major denominations will be taking part, and the preacher at the service will be Revd. Lord Leslie Griffiths.
Lord Griffiths, a former President of the Methodist Conference and currently the superintendent minister of Wesley’s Chapel in London, has sat in the House of Lords since 2004, where he has been outspoken on a variety of social issues. He has also been a contributor to the BBC ‘Thought for the Day’.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has been held each year for over 100 years, its theme being selected by one of the members of the World Council of Churches. This year the theme for the united service has been chosen by the churches of Latvia and is ‘Salt of the Earth’. Rt. Revd. Keith Sinclair, the Bishop of Birkenhead observes: “This is a particularly appropriate theme within Cheshire, whose wealth and industry has been based on the salt deposits found underneath the county”.
Members of the Salt of the Earth Network established by Bishop Sinclair to promote the relationships between church, industry and community will be taking part in the service.
The service will be at 4.00 pm, and all are welcome.
17 December 2015
Chester Cathedral is currently the new home to a distinguished sculpture called Jesus Christ by world renowned Scottish sculptor and installation artist, David Mach RA. On loan, for three months, the 2011 piece is made from 12,000 burned matches and is a fragile and intricate imagining of the biblical figure.
Turner prize nominee Mach is heavily influenced by Pop Art and consumerism, and employs a sense of drama and performance in his work. Mach’s work also explores materiality on a grand scale, by bringing together multiples of mass–produced objects, most notably magazines, newspapers and car tyres, in large scale installations. His work is representational, humorous and sometimes controversial.
Mach explains that the process to create a sculpture like Jesus Christ takes months of work with models and moulds constructed over several weeks and each match applied one by one and glued individually.
The Vice-Dean, Peter Howell-Jones says, “Whilst we are sure that our cathedral is always home to Jesus Christ, we are particularly proud to display Mach’s truly remarkable version in our admissions area.”
Jesus Christ will be followed by an enormous David Mach exhibition within the cathedral on 18 March – 1 May 2016.
To visit David Mach’s micro-website, click here.
28 November 2015
Chester Cathedral will shortly launch its annual Christmas Tree Festival which will welcome visitors who wish to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, and lose themselves in magical tree-lined medieval walkways twinkling with fairy lights.
The free-to-enter festival will run from Saturday 28 November 2015 until 3 January 2016, and over 50 decorated trees will line the cathedral cloisters, transforming the corridors into fantastic winter walkways. The 7’ trees are all traditional Norway Spruces, grown on the nearby Eaton Estate. The estate donated 52 locally grown trees to the cathedral and carefully chose the seven year old spruces for their shape and vibrant colour.
Every year the trees are sponsored and decorated by local schools and businesses with proceeds going towards a local charity. This year, the Neuro Muscular Centre, based in Winsford Cheshire will benefit from the funds raised. In 2014, the festival raised more than £2,700 for The Baby Grow Appeal at the Countess of Chester Hospital.
The Vice Dean, Canon Peter Howell-Jones, said: “The cathedral is especially pleased to raise money for such a worthwhile charity which directly benefits people in the North of England and North Wales. With so many businesses and schools sponsoring trees it’s heartwarming to see the community join together for a common cause.”
Visitors to the festival are encouraged to vote for their favourite tree with the winner announced in January.
23 November 2015
For over 20 years Cards for Good Causes has set up shop inside Chester Cathedral helping to raise money for multiple charities throughout the Christmas season.
Cards for Good Causes operates a volunteer-run, annual pop-up shop where people are able to buy Christmas cards benefitting all their favourite charities during the festive season.
Charities represented by Cards for Good Causes each have different cards with bespoke designs. The designs link the cards to each specific charity and to Christmas, with illustrations ranging from Biblical nativities and snowy scenery, to modern abstracts and cheery festivities.
Heather Leadbetter has been volunteering at the Chester Cathedral branch since 1994. In 2007 she became shop manager and currently co-manages with Sue Elphick.
Miss Leadbetter said: “When people buy their charity Christmas cards from us, more of their money ends up with the charity than if they had bought their charity cards from a High Street shop. “
Profits from card sales benefit over 35 national charities with over 300 Cards for Good Causes shops throughout the UK. There are two shops in Chester with ‘Chester 2’ located in the cathedral’s Refectory Café.
Canon Precentor Jeremy Dussek said: “Cards for Good Causes is an excellent reminder to everyone about what Christmas really is. It’s a time to think of others before you and to help those in need. It’s a time when community should come together and celebrate the birth of Christ, whether it be through worship or acts of kindness toward others. This is the message we try to spread. There’s nowhere more appropriate than the cathedral to host a charity card shop and I’m proud they have been part of our Christmas season for so many years.”
Cards for Good Causes at Chester Cathedral is being held in the Refectory Café until Friday 15 December and is open Monday to Saturday 10am to 4pm.
10 November 2015
From Thursday 19 November, Chester Cathedral will be transformed as it recreates scenes from Victorian London to relive the heart-warming tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
The free-to-enter exhibition will be spread cathedral-wide as visitors travel throughout the building to discover scenes from this ageless tale.
Visitors are invited to join Scrooge beginning with ‘bah humbug’ in his counting house. Discover the child of man, Ignorance and Want, at midnight and journey alongside Scrooge as his adventures with the Ghosts of Christmas take him through his past, present and future. Dance at the Fezziwig Ball and observe a magnificent Christmas Lunch as Scrooge realizes the true spirit of Christmas.
Dickens was deeply touched by the plight of poor children in the middle decades of the 19th century. A visit to the North West inspired the author to produce a story about the poor, a repentant miser, and redemption that would become A Christmas Carol. The books enduring popularity means it has been in continuous print since 1843.
To join in with the festivities, the cathedral Gift Shop will be stocked with Dickens themed items including many variations of the tale itself. The Refectory will provide hot drinks and cakes for weary visitors to relax and warm up alongside Christmas Carol characters.
This festive exhibition comes after the hugely successful The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe exhibition last Christmas which saw over 40,000 visitors in the cathedral during its six-week run.
Enterprise Manager Sue Petranca, curator of the exhibition, said: “The various scenes paired with our interpretation will bring together the spiritual undertones in this family classic with a truly memorable visitor experience. When visitors enter the building, our welcomers will give each person a map of the building showing where each scene is located. Visitors are then invited to explore the building and discover each scene for themselves.”
This free exhibition will be open daily to visitors and will run from Thursday 19 November and will finish on Sunday 3 January 2016.
13 October 2015
A Remembrance Day poppy planted at the Tower of London last year has been permanently mounted inside Chester Cathedral.
Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red was an exhibition of hand-made ceramic poppies which eventually filled the Tower of London moat from July to November 2014. The 888,246 hand-made poppies each represented a fallen British soldier from World War I.
Poppy number 663,320 was bought by Tony Hawes, a Sandiway parishioner, who arranged with the Dean and Chapter of Chester Cathedral to display it.
On Friday 9 October, the poppy was installed in the Regimental Chapel of the cathedral.
Hawes said: “I bought the poppy to make a donation to the heroes and the charities they were representing and I thought it would be more meaningful to display it in the Regimental Chapel, where many people can see it. I’m delighted that the Dean and Chapter agreed as I didn’t want it to go to waste.”
The Dean of Chester, The Very Revd Professor Gordon McPhate, said: “I was very excited when Tony came to us with the idea of displaying his poppy inside the cathedral. I don’t believe there could be a place more perfect to keep the poppy than the Regimental Chapel, a small part of the church inherent to all of our lives. The symbolism behind the poppy greatly touches the hearts of many and I have no doubt Cestorians will cherish having this poppy within their own cathedral.”
The poppy is displayed in a case that holds just as much symbolism as the ceramic itself. The case, made by Suzanne Hodgson, is a glass tube capped with wood at both ends. The wood caps are made of 100 year old light oak laminated and layered to represent the textures of earth in a tribute to the dedicated but fallen servicemen of Britain.
Chester Cathedral continues to be a free to enter cathedral and invites visitors to take a look at the Remembrance Day poppy.
11 October 2015
Chester Cathedral has had one of its busiest and most successful summer seasons in living memory, despite less than sizzling holiday temperatures in the Northwest. The free-to-enter cathedral welcomed a staggering 65,500 visitors through the doors during the six week summer period, more visitors than the whole of 2012.
Several new attractions and initiatives are proving popular and the Vice Dean, Peter Howell-Jones is confident that visitor numbers will remain buoyant, “We have revised our expected visitor numbers for 2015 up to 330,000, over 100,000 more than in 2014. This is vindication that all the hard work and creative effort by Chester Cathedral is paying off and as well as being a sacred place of worship, we are also a premier visitor attraction with much to offer all age groups.”
Initiatives at a glance:
Chester Cathedral in 2016 shows no sign of slowing down with world class exhibitions representing both art and sculpture, concerts, film nights, Proms and of course services.
11 August 2015
The bees of Chester Cathedral Falconry and Nature Gardens have just produced their first batch of honey.
Beehives were adopted within the Chester Cathedral estate in early spring this year to later be a part of the Chester Cathedral Falconry and Nature Gardens’ educational outreach. The beehives will help to educate visitors not only on the inner workings of a bee colony but also the importance of conservation and locally sourced goods.
Head Falconer Tommy McNally said: “One objective of Chester Cathedral Falconry and Nature Gardens is to demonstrate how people and nature can work together. We want to show how Chester Cathedral’s historic links to falconry, beekeeping and gardening are still relevant today.
The beehives and honey are one indication that bees and people can work together with both parties benefiting; the bees survive, our plants are pollenated, and we all end up with honey.”
The beehives link back to Chester Cathedral’s roots as a Benedictine Monastery.
Heritage and Tours manager Nick Fry said: “Monasteries used to maintain beehives because of their versatile uses. Not only was the honey a cure to any sweet tooth, but beeswax made better candles than their tallow counterparts. Furthermore the monks could create mead by fermenting together honey and water.
The monks were incredibly self-sustaining. They had a fish pond in the Cloister Garden as well as herb and vegetable gardens, both inside and outside the city walls. The bees from their hives could have been the very same bees that pollinated their gardens.”
The honey is harvested empathetically to the bees. Honey acts as a back-up food source for the bees when weather is poor and pollen cannot be collected. When Chester Cathedral honey is harvested only the excess is gathered, leaving more than enough for the bees’ survival.
Chester Cathedral honey is a very clear honey with a floral taste and can be purchased in the Gift Shop.
Laure Reed, Assistant Manager of Chester Cathedral’s Gift Shop, said: “The shop first and foremost tries to stock items made locally, followed by items made in Britain and then we open our reach to items made in Europe. We are very proud to deal only with ethically-lead suppliers. One of our key-aims is reducing our carbon footprint by using locally produced goods first.”
Much of the Chester Cathedral Gift Shop is locally sourced including Chester bespoke items, handmade fudge, jams, chutneys and drizzles as well as Welsh wool blankets and Celtic Works ceramics.
4 August 2015
For the first time, Chester Cathedral will hold its own Last Night of the Proms concert on Saturday 3rd October 2015.
This much anticipated event will pay homage to the much loved classical season finale that takes place in the Royal Albert Hall in London and is televised annually.
Philip Rushforth, Director of Music, will conduct the 45 strong Chester Cathedral Choir as well as the 10 piece Manchester Brass Ensemble, accompanied by the cathedral’s Grand Organ.
The Vice-Dean, Canon Peter Howell-Jones, will host the concert in his own inimitable way.
“Flag waving, patriotic clothing and song singing will be positively encouraged as we bring the house down with favourite classics such as Jerusalem and Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No 1 in D. We have been inundated with requests to stage this concert and we are looking forward to a hugely entertaining evening.”
A promenade concert originally referred to outdoor concerts in London’s pleasure gardens, where the audience was free to stroll around while the orchestra was playing. The tradition has been revived around the UK and together with Chester Cathedral’s Last Night of the Proms forms the world’s largest musical festival.
Philip Rushforth, says, “Our concert programme will be instantly familiar and will feature the works of Elgar, Parry, Rutter, Handel and Holst. Last night favourites will also include Rule, Britannia and of course, the national anthem.”
Tickets to Chester Cathedral’s Last Night of the Proms are on sale now priced at £20.00, £17.50 & £8.00 and are available from the Box Office 01244 500959 or www.chestercathedral.com
18 August 2015
The Chester Cathedral in LEGO project has completed 10,000 of 350,000 bricks to be included in the model of the historic building.
The project build has been going since April 2015 and is expected to last three to four years.
The model – which will split in two to reveal the inside of the building – will include special features unique to Chester Cathedral’s interior, such as the Quire, Consistory Court, and the Grand Organ, painstakingly recreated in LEGO. Plans have been prepared and these unique sets are available for corporate sponsorship.
The 10,000 bricks form the foundation of what will eventually be a scale model of Chester Cathedral. When completed, the model will reach almost four meters in length and two meters in height.
Chester Cathedral visitors can buy a brick for £1 where they will physically help build the model by placing the brick on the module. Money raised from the LEGO build will go directly into the Chester Cathedral Education Trust, which has been created to support the on-going education work at Chester Cathedral.
The Revd Canon Jane Brooke, Canon Chancellor, said: “The build is not only helping us to further our outreach of education through the LEGO but also to raise funds for continuing and expanding that outreach.
Using LEGO for the build is brilliant because it has proven to be a common interest between children and adults, allowing us to portray our cathedral’s rich history in a way that is interesting to the whole family.”
Since launching the project the cathedral has welcomed over 50 new volunteers, applied for a world record in the ‘number of instructions for one model, and had an increase of 25 per cent in under 35’s. Chester Cathedral has also welcomed a number of famous individuals who laid foundation bricks including London mayor Boris Johnson.
28 July 2015
The Dean’s Field, an area within the City Walls that was prone to anti-social behaviour, is now crime free thanks to works completed by Chester Cathedral.
In January 2015 the Dean’s Field was secured as the site for the Chester Cathedral Falconry and Nature Gardens. Due to the cathedral’s dedicated work the City Centre has seen an end to anti-social behaviour in this area.
Cathedral Constable Chris Jones said: “There have been no reports of anti-social behaviour from residents of the area, police or the cathedral estates team since early this year. Every day the estates team comb the Dean’s Field for any evidence of anti-social behaviour. However since works began no evidence has been found. Not only has a crime-free Dean’s Field been a major success but it also shows the positives of public engagement and outreach.
With such strong historic and communal links between the cathedral and the city, Chester Cathedral has every reason and every intention of supporting and assisting in the reduction of anti-social behaviour within our community.”
Years prior to the Falconry Centre launch, the Dean’s Field was not accessible to the public. The Falconry Centre, and fall of anti-social behaviour, has made it possible for Chester Cathedral to open up this area to visitors, allowing them to experience another segment of the rich history behind Chester Cathedral.
Heritage and Tours Manager Nick Fry said: “What’s special about the Dean’s Field is not only is it the largest green space within the Walls but it also links back to Chester’s Roman roots. Underneath the Dean’s Field is the location of the ancient Roman army barracks dating back about 2,000 years.”
Chester Cathedral Falconry and Nature Gardens highlights the ancient links between the cathedral and the city of Chester through the medieval pastime of falconry. Visitors are given the opportunity to handle the various birds of prey including owls, falcons, a vulture and a golden eagle.
The Centre is open seven days a week from 10am closing at 5pm. Entry for the day is £3 per adult, £2.50 for children or £10 for a family pass including two adults and up to three children.