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The next Cathedral Forum takes place on Monday 5 October, at 6.30pm. Unfortunately, due to current Covid guidelines, this meeting has to take place online. If you wish to join us, please email the Dean’s Office (click here) indicating your wish to attend. A link to the event, which will include joining instructions, will be sent to you in due course.

Kevin Baxter
Communications Director

Chester Cathedral - Icon presentation

A beautiful icon of the Seven Martyrs in the Solomon Islands was presented by the Companions of the Melanesian Brothers for the Martyr’s Chapel in the South Transept.  Bishop Mark, Bishop Keith, Bishop Willy and his daughter Kate, Archdeacons Mike and Ian were amongst the small group who welcomed the icon in a short service.  The icon was created by the Reverend Christopher Perrins and recalls the time of civil unrest in the Solomon Islands in early 2003.

Melanesian Brothers are peacemakers belonging to the Anglican Religious Community of the Melanesian Brotherhood. Brother Nathaniel went to visit the leader Harold Keke on the Weather Coast of Guadacanal considering him to be a friend. He was tortured and murdered. Six brothers went to find him and request the body: three were killed immediately and the other three were killed the following day. The graves of the brothers are in Tabalia.

Chester Cathedral is honoured to recall the martyrs through the stunning icon.

The icon is yet unfinished: after a year it will be varnished.

Cheshire West commemorates Victory in Japan with a two minute’s silence on 15 August at 11am.

To mark the 75th anniversary of VJ Day, on 15 August Chester Town Hall will once again be lit red, white and blue and decorated with union flags.  There will be a two minute’s silence led by the Lord Mayor of Chester, Councillor Mark Williams at 11am.

VJ Day marks both the surrender of Japan and the end of the Second World War.

The day will start at 6am with a lone piper playing joining the Lord Mayor of Chester to play the Battle’s O’er from Chester Cathedral.  The event will be streamed live on the Lord Mayor’s Facebook page and re-tweeted onto the Council’s social media accounts at 9am.

The Lord Mayor of Chester, Lord Lieutenant, local dignitaries, military colleagues and local people have come together to record a virtual civic service that will be shared at 10 am on the Council and Lord Mayor’s social media accounts.  Participants will reflect on the significance of the ending of the Second World War and the historic pen linking Chester to the signing of the Instrument of Surrender.  Please join us in watching and sharing the short video.

Chester Military Museum holds one of the pens used at the Japanese surrender. On September 2, 1945, in a formal ceremony aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, Japan, representatives of the Japanese government signed the Instrument of Surrender, officially ending World War II.

General Douglas MacArthur, Commander in the Southwest Pacific, signed for the United States and accepted the surrender in his capacity as the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers.

The pen was gifted by General MacArthur to Lt General Arthur Percival, a former forces commander. Lt General Percival was in charge of forces in Malaysia and was held in a Japanese prisoner of war camp after it fell to the Japanese in 1942. After Japan’s surrender, MacArthur secured Percival’s release and brought him on board the USS Missouri to witness the Japanese signing the surrender. MacArthur then presented the pen to Percival. He, in turn, donated it to the Cheshire Regiment before his death in 1966.

Due to the current Pandemic and social distancing guidance, attendance at the civic service on 15 August has been limited to thirty invited guests.  However, the civic service will be broadcasted live on the below links on Saturday 15 August from 10.30am.  The service can also be watched live or at your own leisure on the following You Tube Accounts.   No accounts or pre-set up is required.

https://www.youtube.com/c/ChesterCathedralChoirandOrgan/

https://www.youtube.com/user/cheshirewest

Following the short service on Saturday, the Act  of Remembrance and wreath laying will take place in the Cathedral Memorial Gardens at 10.55 am and The Last Post played followed by the two minute’s silence at 11 am.  The two-minute silence will be ended with playing of Reveille.  These events will also be streamed live on the Council You Tube accounts and the Lord Mayor of Chester and Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Facebook accounts.

The Lord Mayor of Chester, Councillor Mark Williams said: “Once again our plans have been changed due to Coronavirus but the Internet will provide the means to share our commemoration services. Please join me virtually to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VJ Day

“We will remember the contribution of all Commonwealth and Allied Forces, without whom victory and the freedoms and the way of life we enjoy today would not have been possible.  We will also remember those who sadly lost their lives as a result of the war.

Councillor Bob Rudd, Chairman of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said “Whilst we must remember and commemorate those who were gravely wounded or died during years of war, the 75th Anniversary of victory in Japan is also an opportunity to celebrate the peace that came to us all at the end WW II.  Veterans and families involved with the battles in Asia have always felt they were the ‘forgotten army’ so here in Cheshire West we have arranged for a virtual and a Hybrid civic services to take place, so they are not and never be forgotten.

Over 200 new specialist job roles will be created at a brand-new school and centre of excellence for special educational needs and disability (SEND) when it opens in Chester in September.

Abbey School, which is based in a Grade II* listed building in the heart of Chester’s historic Abbey Square, will be staffed by an expert trans-disciplinary team, who will provide children and young people with exceptional needs with the very best possible educational experience.

The day and residential school will have up to 75 places for children and young persons aged four to 19 years. It will cater for pupils with a diagnosis of autism and/or severe learning difficulties, who may display behaviour of concern or behaviour that challenges families and services.

The school’s team of highly trained and experienced multi-professional staff will be permanently based on-site, and will offer a number of therapies. The new roles will include social care staff, qualified teachers, behaviour analysts, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, learning mentors, and subject specialists – ensuring students have access to the right support they need at the right times.

Katy Lee, Principal at Abbey School, said: “Our highly-trained trans-disciplinary team is our most valuable resource in ensuring that pupils reach their best possible outcomes. Ensuring that we have the best team in place to nurture and develop the potential of every student and deliver an outstanding educational experience, is key to our vision.

“Supporting our pupils, their families, and our community, we are working hard to deliver an agenda that is socially significant and relevant and we’re delighted to be opening out these hugely rewarding career opportunities. These roles offer the chance to positively impact young peoples’ lives and enrich their educational experience within a best practice setting, where wellbeing of students and staff is a key priority.

“Our school model includes a comprehensive in-house training programme for staff, designed in strategic partnership with leading researchers, plus external training and postgraduate study opportunities and offers the potential to progress and develop a career within a highly innovative educational environment which will set an exemplar standard.”

The Dean of Chester, the Very Revd Dr Tim Stratford said: “Chester Cathedral is delighted with all that this development promises and we are pleased to welcome the Abbey School for Exceptional Children here. This school is a benefit to families across the city and county and I am sure it will enrich our society through the children who gain a place.”

Abbey School brings together everything that is known from special education research and best practice to provide an outstanding teaching and learning experience, with the wellbeing of pupils and staff sitting at the heart of the school’s philosophy. Unlike any other specialist school in the UK, Abbey School also offers attractive funding solutions to placing Local Authorities, which can finance the school fees for all pupils attending the school.

Employing a holistic approach, which targets learning and development through mutual engagement and participation, the Abbey School model draws on a range of academic, social, and functional activities.  The school’s multi-disciplinary team will deliver a pupil-centred, blended curriculum that seamlessly integrates academic and social learning with Positive Behaviour Support – a framework for assessing, promoting, and evaluating behaviour change in an ethical and culturally sensitive way.

Core to the school’s approach will be a strategic research partnership with SEND experts at Bangor University and the University of Warwick– both institutions are globally renowned leaders in the field of SEND educational research and development. The Abbey School Educational Research Alliance (ERA), will see Abbey School collaborate on a number of initiatives with both universities to develop the very best possible educational outcomes and experiences for children and young people at the school.

The school is investing over £1 million in research, development, evaluation, and training – working closely with the leading universities to introduce innovative approaches that give young people an outstanding educational experience which enables them to thrive.

For more information about careers at Abbey School, please visit: abbeyschool.com/recruitment

Bishop Mark Tanner will be confirmed as the Bishop of Chester at 11am on Wednesday 15 July 2020, in a service broadcast entirely online due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The service will include music from the Cathedral’s Nave Choir, a reading and prayers from young people in the diocese, and the new Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell will give the address. Prayers will be offered for Bishop Mark, the Diocese of Chester, the Northern Province of the Church of England, and for our country, as well as for the wider world.

Commenting on the service, Bishop Mark said: “I am so grateful that we can gather in prayer and worship as we begin this next phase in the life of Chester Diocese. During the lockdown, as so much has been stripped away, we have glimpsed some of the ways Christ holds out hope and love and invites each of us. This is the hope and peace in which we meet and it will be lovely if you can join us.”

The service will be broadcast on the Diocesan YouTube channel here.

The College of Canons met on 28 May 2020 and unanimously elected the Rt Revd Mark Tanner as the new Bishop of Chester.

Further details can be read here.

Chester Cathedral stands beside people of colour around the globe.  Racism is an affront to God.  It is born out of ignorance and must be eradicated.

We pray for the victims of, and for those that continue to be affected by racism.

We appreciate the desire to protest about racism and call for people to maintain social distancing and to maintain the peace; ask what you personally can do to make change happen for a better world.  Travelling to Chester city centre and gathering in large numbers will put other people’s lives at risk whilst Covid-19 is particularly virulent in the north west.

Please respect one another and protect our historic city.

This week, Chester Cathedral releases a two-volume record of the stained glass windows of its cloister.  The cloister of Chester Cathedral was glazed in the 1920s at the suggestion of the Very Reverend Frank Bennett, Dean of Chester (1920-1937).

There are 34 windows in the cloister with a total of 130 lights (a sub-division of a window).  His son, who was later ordained, suggested the depiction of the Church’s Calendar.  Each window has one or more memorial.  Donors for the memorials generated the necessary funds.  147 local people (dedicatees) are remembered in this way and about a quarter are World War I memorials

A team of five led by The Reverend Canon Jane Brooke, Vice Dean, has photographed each light in great detail and a two page commentary has been written describing the story of the saint or holy day, explaining the attributes found in the pictures and biographical details of the dedicatee.

The book, in two volumes, is richly illustrated with photographs and may be seen online. Hard copies may be available later. This is the first time in 100 years that a record of these unique windows has been written.

The Gallery of Saints can be downloaded here.


Theme of kindness

The Chief Executive of Mental Health Foundation wrote: ‘Last week, I waited in a socially distanced queue outside the supermarket as the rain started to fall. One of the staff noticed we were getting wet.  He scurried away to find a pile of umbrellas, carefully disinfected the handles and passed them out with a smile.  To my surprise, my eyes started to well up.  At a time when I felt alone, I suddenly felt connected.  If I asked you the last time you gave or experienced kindness, you would tell me stories of when you felt moved, protected, held, seen, loved.’

At this time of lockdown any act of kindness brings us together and demonstrates that we are all important and worthy of love.  Acts of kindness surround us with God’s love and allow us to show others they are indeed deeply loved.  The example of Jesus Christ was the ultimate example for us of loving those around us and those who are at a distance.

This Mental Health Awareness Week can we all try to undertake one act of kindness to someone whom we don’t normally relate to?   It can start today!

If you receive an act of kindness please let Canon Jane Brooke know (with no name mentioned of who did the act of kindness) and she will both give thanks in prayer and collate a few of the stories so that we can glimpse some of  God’s love at work in our world.

Email Jane here.

#KindnessMatters

The Dean, Chapter and Cathedral Community are delighted to welcome the Right Reverend Mark Tanner as the new Bishop of Chester.

Heavenly Father, we welcome and give thanks for the announcement of Mark Tanner, as our new Bishop of Chester; may your Spirit be upon him, and that Mark may know of our prayers as he prepares to move from Northumberland to our Diocese. As we celebrate Christ as our Good Shepherd, may your blessing be upon Mark’s ministry as he prepares to lead us in our pilgrimage to serve you in proclaiming the gospel of salvation of God’s love to all.

Amen.

Christ the Good Shepherd guide you in the way of gentle leadership for Mark, our next Bishop of Chester. May you carry your staff knowing that you yourself need support. At this difficult time, allow the burdens and anxieties of your ministry to rest upon Christ’s shoulders, and that your leadership and vision may remain unclouded be the call to which you are responding. Be with us as we wait for you to join us, and may you know of our prayers for your ministry and family, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified: hear our prayer, which we offer for all your faithful people, that in their vocation and ministry they may serve you in holiness and truth to the glory of your name; and give to your servant Mark, who has been called to be our next Bishop of Chester, the needful gifts of grace, faith and service; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Chester Cathedral is among a number of the nation’s cathedrals uniting this VE Day in a project to remember heroes of the past and present as part of the Big Picnic for Hope.

To mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day on 8 May 2020, cathedrals around the country had events planned to form part of the national celebrations. These events would have brought together communities, friends and families in gatherings and streets parties around the UK. However, with the Covid-19 pandemic, such gatherings are no longer possible. Most major events have been cancelled or postponed, but 8 May 2020 is still a national bank holiday and an opportunity for us to reflect on past events and those we are all currently experiencing.

The Big Picnic for Hope is an opportunity for households to be part of a virtual get together on 8 May. The project asks people to stay at home, to picnic indoors or in their gardens, and to join friends and families virtually.

At the same time as something fun to take part in with other people around the country, the project affords us a unique way to remember heroes who have kept our country safe in the past and those on the new home front. It gives the nation another way of saying thank you for the incredible effort and sacrifice being made by our key workers from carers, delivery personnel, grocery workers and public transport workers to medical researchers and frontline NHS staff. We must also not forget the remarkable collective effort of the nation to play our part and stay at home. The project also serves an opportunity to recognise that these times are difficult for many people and aims to raise £5,000 towards The Trussell Trust, a charity supporting a network of foodbanks and helping those in need in the UK.

The Very Revd Dr Tim Stratford, Dean of Chester, said: “During the current pandemic we have all been inspired by a different national mood: there has been a great outpouring of neighbourliness, practical support and care for one another. We have been inspired by the selflessness and dedication of the NHS staff and so many other key workers. VE day in 1945 celebrated not only the defeat of an enemy but the solidarity and resourcefulness of the whole nation; its hopes for a secure and more settled world.

Although big public plans for celebrating the 75th anniversary of VE day 2020 have had to be put on hold, it seems really appropriate to use the date to remember the experience of World War II and to think about the humanity and care we have seen right now. The aim of the Big Picnic for Hope is to have a shared occasion when, whether sitting at home, or in your garden, by sharing a meal and a conversation we can swap our stories, memories and experiences. We hope people right across the country will be taking part, talking about what’s moved them, inspired them, made them grateful or got them thinking new kinds of things. People from the past and people in the present spark our hope for the future. It will be good to name those people and hopes on 8 May”

At the heart of the Big Picnic for Hope is a reflection that many people will be finding life particularly difficult, many struggling to put food on the table. The #feed5000 hashtag reflects the project’s aim to raise £5,000 for the Trussell Trust, who support a nationwide network of food banks and provide emergency food and support to people in poverty. With a rise in the number of people needing to access foodbanks, and the future uncertain for many, the Big Picnic for Hope asks those who can afford it to donate towards providing another individual or family having food in their house today.

Samantha Stapley, Chief Operating Officer at the Trussell Trust, said: “As the coronavirus outbreak develops, more people are likely to need a food bank’s help. Our teams are working tirelessly to ensure that food banks are able to remain open and have the necessary stocks to respond to this crisis. The support of the Cathedral network means we can remain agile to respond to the fast-changing situation and ensure food banks continue to provide the lifeline of emergency food and additional support for people in crisis. Thank you.”

How can people get involved in the Big Picnic for Hope?

People can share their plans and ideas for the Big Picnic for Hope using the hashtag #bigpicnicforhope. On social media people will be able to share and see their creative ideas of what to bake, what to make, how to picnic in style. This will help everyone get ready to join together on Friday 8 May to share photos of their picnics and discuss memories and stories of their loved ones, past and present, in a way fitting of the circumstances we are living through.

To join in with the Big Picnic for Hope, find out more, or share your ideas and photos visit www.bigpicnicforhope.com also see participating cathedral social media and @bigpicnicforhope on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

The fundraising page can be found here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/bigpicnicforhope

Participating Cathedrals: Bradford Cathedral, Chelmsford Cathedral, Chester Cathedral, Chichester Cathedral, Exeter Cathedral, Guildford Cathedral, Lichfield Cathedral, Liverpool Cathedral, Manchester Cathedral, Rochester Cathedral, Peterborough Cathedral, Portsmouth Cathedral, Southwell Minster


 

Chester Cathedral is pleased to publish Walking With God, a collection of readings and contributions from representatives of local communities and the congregations. It has been collated for Chester Cathedral’s celebration of ‘Pilgrimage’ – as part of the national ‘2020 Year of Pilgrimage, Year of Cathedrals’.

Click to the page-turning version of Walking With God, published by Chester Cathedral here.
Please note: the page-turning version of the booklet features pop-up advertisements on screen; these can be removed by clicking the X at the top right of the advertisement.  This is version three of the booklet.

Alternatively, for a pdf version of Walking With God, click here. This is version three of the booklet.


A unique part of Chester’s dramatic history will be broadcast to the world this Easter.

The renowned Chester Mystery Plays will be streamed on YouTube on Good Friday for the first time in its 700-year history.

The live recordings of Act I and Act II of the 2018 cycle, directed by Peter Leslie Wild at Chester Cathedral, will be broadcast at 10.30am on Friday 10 April and remain available online to view for eight weeks.

The production, which was watched by more than 7000 people, was highly acclaimed by critics describing it as ‘an impressive spectacle’ (The Stage), ‘an artistic triumph’ (The Chester Chronicle), ‘a celebration of a community’ (Northern Soul) and ‘powerful and magnificent’ (North West End).

Many of the 150 community actors in the original production were due to take part in the Chester City Passion on Good Friday, a promenade performance throughout the city starting at 10.30am, but the event was cancelled in mid-March in light of social restrictions imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Peter Leslie Wild said: “This broadcast is a wonderful opportunity for cast members, friends and the people of Chester especially to be reminded of happier times. Community theatre plays such an important role in people’s lives and in these days of social distancing and isolation many will be missing the friendship and companionship of projects like the Chester Mystery Plays and the Chester City Passion.”

The Chester Mystery Plays, which tell Bible stories including the Creation, Noah’s Ark, The Nativity and The Crucifixion were first written in the 14th century and performed by the guildsmen of the city on wagons around the streets.

Since the modern revival of the plays in 1951, they have been performed in the city once every five years and the 2018 cycle was written by Deborah McAndrew and designed by Dawn Allsopp, with original music composed and directed by Matt Baker.

The recording was made by PH Production Services Ltd and will be found on the Chester Mystery Plays channel on YouTube.

Ian Sanderson, chairman of the Chester Mystery Plays Company Ltd said: “I would like to thank the professional production team for agreeing to waive their rights to this production to allow us to stream it live on YouTube.

The Chester Mystery Plays are a huge commitment for our community cast and we are delighted to be able to share their performance with a wider audience during this difficult time.”

Watch the Chester Mystery Plays here.

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From 30 March 2020 Evening Prayer at Chester Cathedral will move to enable you to join us on screen. Please email
deansoffice@chestercathedral.com to register.

Simply type in the Subject field, “Register for Evening Prayer” and you will receive an email link each day (which will connect you to Evening Prayer).

Your email will be stored securely by Chester Cathedral and will only be used to send you a daily (Monday to Friday) link to Evening Prayer.  Your email address will be deleted once worship resumes, and you may remove yourself from the above list by doing the same but typing “Unregister for Evening Prayer” in the Subject field.

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Chester Cathedral and churches in hundreds of parishes across our region are now closed to all forms of worship, including private prayer and reflection, weddings, and baptisms. Funerals can continue under strict guidelines set out by the Church of England.

Stay Home, Save Lives

The decision is part of a series of stringent measures anounced by the Prime Minister to stem the spread of Coronavirus and save lives.

Commenting on the decision, Bishop Keith says: “It is a regrettable but necessary step and I am in full support of the decision from the UK Government. We must do all that we can to stem the spread of coronavirus across our nation. The Church continues to be alive and active: the doors are closed but our hearts are open to the new possibilities of reaching out to our communities through prayer, social media and innovation. This is a crisis in our time, but in God I trust.”

In Chester, the Cathedral and Abbey have kept a rhythm of prayer and openness to God alive for centuries.Even though the Cathedral will be closed to the public the clergy will still maintain a pattern of daily prayer, praying for the needs of the nation and our world at this time.

Prayer has been offered at Chester Cathedral, and in hundreds of parish churches across the county for many centuries, and it will continue. In the coming days Chester Cathedral and the Diocese of Chester will seek ways in which they can reach out to people through prayer, social media and through serving communities in the City of Chester and across the diocese at large.

Regular updates will be published on the Cathedral website and the diocesan website.

Commenting on the decision, The Very Revd Dr Tim Stratford, Dean of Chester said: “At this challenging time for the whole human race we know how important it is to pray to our loving Father who created and gave us life. All we know about God tells us that we should love and care for one another. In these unprecedented days that means limiting our contact with others for a season to cut transmission of a deadly virus. It is with regret that we must close Chester Cathedral to individuals who would otherwise want to come here for prayer and reflection. We hope you will join your prayers with ours from home.

In the mean time we will ensure that you can join with the prayers of the community that lives here on the internet at chestercathedral.com/stream.

Church buildings across the Diocese of Chester will open again as soon as they are advised that this would be of public benefit.

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The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is to lead a national broadcast as the Church of England responds to the challenge of becoming a “different sort of church” in the face of the coronavirus crisis.

The service, including prayers, hymns and a short sermon, will be broadcast online by the Church of England and broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Worship and 39 local BBC radio stations this Sunday as congregations across the country find new ways of sharing worship together after public church services were put on hold.

The service will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Worship at 8.10am and all local radio stations in England at 8am.

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Chester Cathedral has regrettably taken the decision to cancel all public events and acts of worship with immediate effect.  The clergy and adult choir will continue to provide worship through online streaming at 5:30pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays and at 10am on Sundays here.

The church building will remain open for personal prayer, reflection and meditation from 10.30am – 4pm daily until further notice. Entry during this time will be via the doors on St Werburgh Street.  This will be kept under constant review.

By removing the majority of church furniture and dedicating our cleaning team to the remaining areas, we hope to provide a safe space for as long as possible.

The Refectory Cafe, Gift Shop and Falconry Centre will remain closed until the end of April.

The cathedral office will remain open with limited staff between 10.30am – 4pm although we are encouraging most of our staff to work from home in line with government advice.

We respectfully ask that all visitors adhere to the following guidelines:

  • If one person in any household starts to display symptoms of coronavirus, everyone living in that household must stay at home for 14 days.
  • Symptoms are a high temperature AND/OR a new continuous cough.

We do appreciate the level of concern the current situation is causing and we are doing all we can to follow the latest government advice to minimise risk.  We will endeavour to provide regular updates via this website.

On 2 March, a new economic network led by Chester’s top attractions launched ‘Destination Chester’ with the aim of driving tourism in and around Chester through closer collaboration and a bold vision. The pioneers of this new network include among others, Chester Zoo, Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet, CH1 Chester Bid, Chester Hospitality Association, Blue Planet Aquarium, National Waterways Museum and ourselves. The network is supported and co-ordinated by Marketing Cheshire and Cheshire West and Chester Council.

This forward-thinking network plans to increase the number of visitors and the time they spend in Chester by working closely together to produce a sparkling annual programme of events, which will include new events and enhanced existing ones.

Andy Farrall, Chief Executive at Marketing Cheshire and Deputy Chief Executive at the LEP, said: “Cheshire is an outstanding county for tourism thanks to its beautiful and diverse attractions and imaginative events, all of which are underpinned by excellent and varied accommodation and outstanding places to eat. Tourist numbers have risen consistently and last year, 25 million visitors visited the area – a testament to the way the county’s attractions have continually adapted to changing times. The creation of the dynamic ‘Destination Chester’ network is another step on this road. We plan to use our resources, creativity and ‘joined up thinking’ to develop something that is much ‘greater than the sum of the parts.’”

Excitement is now mounting amongst the bell ringers of Chester, as the end of this month fast approaches.  On Saturday 28 March there will be an event at the Cathedral’s Bell tower, every bit as important to ringers as an FA Semi-Final to football fans.  For the first time ever a part of the National Twelve-Bell Striking Contest will be taking place in Chester. Ringers who regularly ring on twelve bells, such as are housed in the free-standing Addleshaw Tower of Chester Cathedral, will be able to ring in the first stage of this very important competition. For years the tower was not taken seriously as a venue for this contest, so troublesome were the internal acoustics. Over recent years much hard work has gone in to making the bells easier to hear in the ringing room, and national organisers of the competition finally judged them suitable for this most prestigious event.

To Chester on 28 March will come teams from Bristol, Oxford, Chilcompton, High Wycombe, Leeds,  and also Exeter, currently the national champions at this level. It will be a tough competition for Paul Hunter and his team of ringers, but they have been practising hard and the whole of the city now needs to get behind them. From the seven teams competing on 28 March three will go forward to the Final to be held at Sheffield Cathedral on 20 June. Chester, playing with a home advantage, must have a good chance of going to Sheffield, and that can only be a source of pride for all Cestrians.

Let us all hope that Paul can lift the Taylor Trophy (given by our most important company of bell founders) in June; as meaningful for a bell-ringer as lifting the FA Cup for a footballer.

Pilgrim passports are now available in every Church of England cathedral as part of the national campaign for 2020 Year of Cathedrals, Year of Pilgrimage.

These passport sized booklets have been devised by two Cathedral Education colleagues, Jackie Holderness at Christ Church Oxford and Portsmouth Cathedral’s Sarah Page, who simply wanted to encourage visitors of all age to see their visit as a pilgrimage.

Jackie Holderness said: “Many Cathedrals seek to engage with visitors on a deeper, spiritual level, so that even if they have arrived as tourists and strangers, they may feel pilgrims when they leave.

“We want all our visitors to develop and grow their own pilgrim heart,” she added.

The passports have been published by the Association of English Cathedrals and are launched now as part of the Year of Cathedrals, Year of Pilgrimage project.  They are available to buy in every Church of England Cathedral, Cathedral Isle of Man as well as St Davids Cathedral in Wales, and will be available more widely soon. The hope is that the passport will inspire people to seek out other holy places as well as visit cathedrals.

The A6 size Pilgrim Passport is full of inspirational quotes, pilgrim poems and prayers, a check list of cathedrals by region, and blank pages for visitors to record their thoughts and get their passport stamped at every cathedral or holy place they visit. Each cathedral has stickers for visitors to use in the passport too.

Dr Dee Dyas, Director for the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture, and Director for Pilgrimage Studies at York University said:

“Pilgrimage has formed part of almost every faith through the centuries and increasing numbers of people today are finding the idea of being a pilgrim very appealing – whether they consider themselves ‘religious’ or not. All of us can relate to seeing our lives as a journey, enhanced by special places with special meaning.

“Cathedrals are increasingly becoming such special places because they offer peace, beauty, and a chance to pause and reflect along the way.

“The new Pilgrim Passport encourages everyone to find their own meaning though visiting these amazing buildings,” she added.

Christmas is over for another year and people have taken down their Christmas tree and decorations, including Chester Cathedral’s wonderful ‘Christmas Tree-cycled Festival’.

The event involved a fabulous display over 50 trees decorated with recycled materials  from local schools and businesses and Cheshire West and Chester Council has now arranged for their trees to be tree-cycled and re-used as mulch.

The Council’s StreetCare Services team has collected the trees and they are now on their way to be chipped and reused across the borough.

If you have had a ‘real’ Christmas tree this year, Cheshire West and Chester Council has organised a free recycling service.

All you have to do is take your tree along to one of the seven locations across the borough between Monday 6 and Sunday 19 January 2019.

The chipping service will be available at the following locations:

  • Alexandra Park and Westminster Park, Chester
  • Knights Grange, Winsford
  • Hooton Golf Club
  • Whitby Park, Ellesmere Port
  • Stanney Fields Park, Neston
  • Castle Park, Frodsham

Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport, Councillor Karen Shore said: “I’m delighted we have been able to work with Chester Cathedral to help them tree-cycle their wonderful display of Christmas trees.  The event was both beautiful and thought-provoking, a fantastic way of getting the recycling message across.

“We’re pleased to be offering a Christmas tree recycling service for residents too for the next few weeks to encourage them to recycle their trees after they have enjoyed them over Christmas.

“Please make sure there is no string or metal attached to your tree. Trained staff from the Council’s StreetCare Services teams will then shred the trees into bark chippings which will be used on the authority’s parks and gardens and in community projects across the borough.”

Canon Jane Brooke, Vice Dean of Chester Cathedral added: “In line with our 2019 message of ‘waves’, our Christmas Tree Festival used the theme of sustainability, recycling and re-using.  The participating schools and businesses did a superb job in bringing that theme to life on the trees, and we’re thankful to Cheshire West and Chester Council for bringing our 2019 theme to a close by recycling all of our trees”

Reusing the bark chippings in parks from trees that would have otherwise have been thrown away will benefit local parks and supports the Council’s Climate Emergency agenda as it continues to work with partners, businesses and communities to develop a borough-wide response to tackle the Climate Emergency. People can submit suggestions and ideas that for the borough to tackle the Climate Emergency by emailing:ClimateChange@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk by Friday 10 January. These will be shared at a public evidence session on the 24 January.

Donations from visitors attending the Tree-Cycle Festival will be donated to Adoption Matters and Stick ‘n’ Step.

 

Chester Cathedral’s forthcoming Christmas Tree Festival needs your help!

Jacha Potgieter – who created the stunning ‘Saving The Deep’ installation in the cloisters this summer, will be creating an extra-special tree for the festival using empty 2litre plastic bottles. 

So, please save and give us your used bottles.

You can drop them into a collection point in the Cathedral. 

We need 500 bottles by the 27 November, so please help as much as you can – and ask your friends and neighbours to help too!

The famous Knife Angel sculpture, which has been touring the country to promote the nationwide campaign against knife crime, will visit Chester next month.

Between 1 – 28 November, residents and visitors to Chester will see the eye-catching, 8.2m high and 3.5 tonnes sculpture standing outside Chester Cathedral.

The art work is made from 100,000 blunted knives, machetes, swords and other bladed instruments collected in a weapons amnesty from all 43 UK police forces. Commissioned by the British Ironwork Centre, its artist, Alfie Bradley expertly welded the knives together to create a sculpture that is both evocative and thought-provoking.

The Knife Angel’s arrival in the city will be marked by a special welcome event on Friday 1 November in the Nave of Chester Cathedral. There will be speeches, a blessing and a one minute silence to remember those affected by knife crime throughout the country.

Visitors to the sculpture throughout November will be encouraged to visit the Cathedral’s Children’s Chapel, which will be renamed the ‘Angel Chapel’ in honour of the artwork. The Angel Chapel will be a quiet place for visitors to reflect upon national knife crime, offering information leaflets, a video highlighting the dangers of carrying knives and the chance for people to share their thoughts in a prayer box.

Canon Missioner and Vice Dean, Canon Jane Brooke says: “The cathedral feels it has an important role to play in raising awareness of knife crime and spreading the message that violence is never the answer. We want to prevent such crime in our city and feel that it is vital to demonstrate the dangers of people carrying knives.”

For further details visit the Chester Cathedral Knife Angel page.

Posted by: Emma
Friday 18 October 2019

BBC Breakfast presenter, Louise Minchin placed the 200,000th brick onto the ‘Chester Cathedral in LEGO’ replica during a special event at the cathedral last week.

Louise is a hugely respected, and well-known journalist, broadcaster and TV presenter. She currently presents Breakfast on BBC One, the UK’s most watched morning TV programme, with over six and a half million viewers a day.

Louise was guest of honour at a dinner hosted by the Very Revd Dr Tim Stratford, Dean of Chester. Louise gave an interesting speech about her career-to-date, her work at the BBC and her outstanding efforts as a triathlete and role in Team GB.  She also briefly touched on her work supporting mental health, to which the cathedral gave a donation.

Whilst at the cathedral The Dean invited Louise, and her husband David, to place the 200,000th brick onto the replica, which she was delighted to do.  In the time since, a further 2,000 bricks have been added – and the current brick count is 202,202.

Posted by: Kevin Baxter
Tuesday 8 October 2019

In response to recent comments posted to the Cathedral’s Twitter account, we make the following statement:

Chester Cathedral is pleased to allow free and safe access to the much of its private estate, including the Cathedral grounds, Abbey Street and Abbey Square, however, there are proportions of its estate that we do not grant public access for many reasons.

Posted by: Kevin
Monday 7 October 2019

The Diocese of Chester is delighted to announce that the Revd Sarah Fenby has been appointed to the newly created joint role of Diocesan Director of Vocations and Residentiary Canon.

Starting on 14 October, Sarah will divide her busy six-day working week between Church House, Daresbury, and Chester Cathedral.

Sarah’s duties in her new role will be many and varied but will largely involve the development of a recruitment strategy for vocations as well as working with staff and 250 volunteers at the Cathedral.

The Dean of Chester, the Very Revd Tim Stratford said: “We are delighted to welcome Sarah as a canon at the Cathedral with significant diocesan responsibility to serve those exploring their Christian vocation. I hope this will help us build relationships and fellowship between Cathedral and parishes. Sarah will also be leading the Cathedral’s work with its volunteers, developing discipleship.”

Sarah is making the move from the Diocese of Worcester where she is currently Vocations and Training Officer. She previously spent over 17 years in parish ministry, working in urban, suburban and rural town contexts.

The Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, said: “All of us in the Diocese of Worcester offer Sarah our congratulations on this appointment. We are grateful for all she has given during her short time here and pray that God’s rich blessing will be on her and her family in the future.”

Sarah says: “I’m very excited to be joining the Diocese of Chester at a time of transition and opportunity. Vocations are in good health in the diocese and I’m looking forward to building on the good work that has gone before, working with the excellent vocations team, and getting to know the many committed and faithful volunteers at Chester Cathedral.

“As a keen walker, I’m also looking forward to seeing what this beautiful and dynamic part of the country has to offer and exploring the historic city of Chester.”  When Sarah manages to get time to herself, she also enjoys playing tennis and good conversation.

Posted by: Kevin
Thursday 26 September 2019

When the weather’s hot in the city, kids can keep cool beside the cathedral’s all-new LEGO® brick pool – which has recently opened alongside the world-first exhibition ‘The DEEP’ – made with LEGO® bricks.

A shimmering pool of dark blue ‘two by four’ LEGO® bricks has opened in the cathedral’s Chapter House and awaits your child’s imagination.  What will they make?  An anchor, a boat, an aeroplane, or..?

Chester Cathedral’s Vice Dean & Canon MissionerJane Brooke said:
“The brick pool has taken us completely by surprise.  We were a little worried about every brick being blue, which of course ties in to our world-first exhibition of sea creatures. However, the children have been so imaginative, building amazing creations – with just one colour and size of brick – that have inspired other visitors.”

Whether the weather is hot and shiny, or wet and miserable, both the DEEP exhibition and the LEGO® brick pool are proving very popular with cestrians and visitors to the city.

The DEEP and the LEGO® brick pool are open now, and until Sunday 8 September 2019.

On Sunday 29 September 2019, the Commanding Officer of HMS Albion will host a service at Chester Cathedral to mark the Ship’s Company exercising their Freedom of the City of Chester.

HMS Albion was granted the Freedom of the City of Chester in 2003.  Albion has always enjoyed strong links with the City of Chester.

In addition to the Ship’s Company and invited guests, 100 tickets will be made available in a public ballot – allowing members of the public to join in the service to mark this special event.  The deadline to apply for two tickets will be Sunday 18 August 2019 at midnight.

Successful applicants will each receive two tickets which will not be transferable.

The service will take place during the afternoon and successful applicants will be notified by email in mid-September of the arrangements. Unsuccessful applicants will not be notified.

The ballot is open to those who are resident in England (including the Channel Isles and the Isle of Man) Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland.

When applying for tickets, both applicants will be asked to provide the following mandatory information:-

  • Full name
  • Main residential address, including postcode
  • Contact Telephone number
  • Date of Birth
  • Place of birth
  • Email address
  • Passport or Driving Licence number

Tickets will be sent electronically as e-tickets to the email address provided during application.

On the day, all successful applicants will be asked to bring their e-ticket with them (on a mobile device or paper copy) along with two separate forms of valid identification; one of which must be photographic (either a passport or photo driving licence) and one of which must confirm current home address.

To apply for two tickets, please email chestercivic@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk providing all of the above information.  All information will be kept confidential, only used for the purpose of the event and destroyed afterwards.

The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Dr Peter Forster, has announced that he will be retiring from his role on Monday 30 September 2019, after more than 22 years in the post.

In a letter to clergy, published on the diocesan website today, he says: “I will be retiring as Bishop on 30 September… It has been a huge privilege to serve in this Diocese, and I am looking forward to my final months in post.

“At 69, I was beginning to feel ready to retire – with Elisabeth in strong agreement! We will move to our house in Scotland, which we have lovingly built over the past decade or so, and which is ready and waiting for us.”

Bishop Peter will bid farewell to the clergy of the diocese at a conference in June and a farewell service at Chester Cathedral is planned for Saturday 20 July – about which more information will be made available soon.

The Bishop of Birkenhead, the Rt Revd Keith Sinclair, will become Acting Bishop from 1 October.

The process for appointing Bishop Peter’s successor will begin in due course.

Full details are available from the Diocese of Chester website.

 

Our hearts go out to the people of Paris as the Notre Dame tragedy grips them this Holy Week. We pray for the cathedral community and all who now work to restore and rebuild such an inspiring house of prayer.  Nos sinceres prières de la part de la Communauté de la Cathedrale de Chester.

The Very Revd Dr Tim Stratford, Dean of Chester

The winners of the 2018 Chester Cathedral Christmas Tree Festival have been announced with A Handbag of Harmonies and Birkenhead School scooping the top prizes.

The festival, which returned for a sixth year in 2018, ran from November 2018 to January 2019 and featured more than 50 majestic Christmas trees decorated by schools and businesses from across Chester & Cheshire.

Chester Cathedral welcomed over 45,000 visitors during the seven week period of the festival and more than 1,000 votes were cast in the festival’s ‘favourite tree’ ballot.  Birkenhead School were most popular school tree with visitors for the second year in a row – definitely a performance to beat!

The winners were presented with an engraved trophy and passes for the Chester Cathedral Falconry and Nature Gardens, or Cathedral at Height tower tour.  The festival raised a magnificent £11,000 for chosen local charity the Hospice of the Good Shepherd.

Justin Caroe, Fundraiser for Hospice of the Good Shepherd commented “The Hospice was delighted to be chosen this year as the beneficiaries from the Christmas Tree Festival. We can’t thank everyone enough who came to visit and made a donation to the Hospice over the festive period. The amount raised will pay for one full day of Hospice care which in itself is an amazing feat. We have thoroughly enjoyed working with the Cathedral over the festival for what has proven to be one of the Chester’s highlighted features.”

Dean of Chester, the Very Revd Dr Tim Stratford, said “This is my first Christmas Tree Festival here in Chester, and it made my heart sing!  From the quality of trees very kindly donated by Grosvenor Estate to the efforts of the participating schools and businesses; we were wowed by their creativity, as were our visitors – celebrating the wonder of what God does, with his decoration.

We are also very pleased that we have been able to support the Hospice of the Good Shepherd through this initiative.  In total now, over the six years of the festival, Chester Cathedral has donated £43,700 to local charities.

The Christmas Tree Festival returns on Saturday 30 November this year – and we already have reservations for trees!” he concludes.

Schools and businesses wishing to reserve a Christmas Tree for the 2019 festival should contact Sue Petranca at Chester Cathedral on 01244 500961 or  by email here.

Revd Canon Jane Brooke has been appointed as Vice Dean of Chester Cathedral and Canon Missioner.  We are extremely grateful to Jane for the way she has fulfilled a number of temporary roles including Canon Chancellor and Acting Dean on a full time basis throughout the transition between Deans. Her appointment as Canon Missioner is on a full time and permanent basis and will be her substantial responsibility bringing an outward looking focus to the Cathedral Leadership Team.  The designation of Vice Dean is reviewed on a three yearly basis.

Jane will be Installed as Vice Dean and Canon Missioner at the beginning of the 10am Sunday morning Eucharist on February 3 by the Dean.

From Thursday 25 October, 16 artists will be present in Chester for three days as part of Chester Art Beat, occupying eight strategic locations.

The Chester Art Beat is a pilot instigated by Canon Jane Brooke and managed by local artist and town crier Julie Mitchell.

It’s a free, family-friendly walking trail which will allow visitors to see artists creating works on site and who will happily chat about what they do and how they are inspired.  Expect to see art, craft and design work covering sculpture, textile art, painting, drawing, printmaking, processional puppet work and digital fractal design.

The best order in which take in all the venues is to start at Chester Racecourse, then move along Watergate Street to Stanley Palace, carry on up Watergate to the Cartoon Gallery and to Bishop Lloyd’s Palace. From there, head further into the city for the Grosvenor Shopping Centre (central atrium), Marks and Spencer, the cathedral and Storyhouse.

There is a free competition for children and adults to win £25 vouchers for art materials as they walk the trail.

Times for the art trail are 11am – 3.30pm on October 25/26 and 11am – 4.30pm on October 27.  Download the official trail map here.

Artists, craft makers and designers have given their time free while the venues are generously donated.

The event has been made possible by generous financial support from HRH Duke of Westminster’s Grosvenor Estate, Cheshire High Sheriff’s Cheshire Community Foundation, eleven Cheshire West and Cheshire councillors and private donors, as well as practical support from CH1BID, Cheshire West and Chester Council, Councillor Jill Houlbrook, and Tracy French, Head of Art at Upton High School.

The installation of the new Dean of Chester took place on Saturday 8 September at Chester Cathedral. Hundreds of well-wishers gathered to share in the historic occasion.

The Very Revd Dr Tim Stratford comes into the Diocese of Chester from his previous role as Archdeacon of Leicester.

Dean Tim is a highly experienced and respected priest, who is a published author and has strong connections to the North West. He grew up in Liverpool and has significant experienceof city and cathedral ministry from his time in the Diocese of Liverpool and through his work as Personal Chaplain to the former Bishop of Liverpool, Bishop David Sheppard. 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.

Tim is married to Jen and they have three adult children and one grandson.

Those present at the service included the the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Dr Peter Forster; the Bishop of Stockport, the Rt Revd Libby Lane; the Bishop of Birkenhead, the Rt Revd Keith Sinclair. They were joined by the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Martyn Snow, and the Bishop of Loughborough, the Rt Revd Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani.

The service on Saturday was attended by clergy and parishioners from across Cheshire, alongside civic representatives, including Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire, Mr David Briggs MBE, K.St.J. and Mrs Michelle Briggs; The High Sheriff of Cheshire, Mrs Alexis Redmond CBE and Professor Phil Redmond MBE.

The Venerable Dr Tim Stratford will be installed as the new Dean of Chester at a special service at 2.30pm on Saturday 8 September.  Please pray for him as he prepares to take up this important role for the cathedral city and Diocese of Chester.

He will be presented to the Bishop of Chester and the “Royal Letters Patent” will be read aloud.  This document expresses both the approval and authorisation of HM The Queen for the new Dean to take up what is constitutionally a Crown appointment.

Chester Cathedral will be closed all day, and admission to the service is by ticket only.

The Cathedral Gift Shop remains open as usual (9.30am – 6pm) and the Refectory Café will be open 9.30am – 1pm).

 

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 sue.petranca@chestercathedral.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.


Cathedrals are among the churches around the country which are con­trib­uting, this harvest-festival season, to the feeding of thou­sands of people who live in poverty. They are sup­port­ing food­banks and homeless shel­ters.
To read this article, follow this link to Church Times.

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.

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: reception@chestercathedral.com

28 November 2016

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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.

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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.

Glyn Conway and Janet

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.”

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 philip.rushforth@chestercathedral.com.

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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 philip.rushforth@chestercathedral.com  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.

 

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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.”

Bees

 

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.

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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.

Revd Denise Williams, Priest Vicar

 

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:

  • Royal School of Needlework exhibition – See more than 50 examples of ecclesiastical hand embroidery from the 18th to 20th century from 3 February to 28 February;
  • David Mach’s Golgotha –three huge crucifixes will call Chester Cathedral home from 18 March to 1 May;
  • The Hallé – one of the top symphonic ensembles in the UK will be at Chester Cathedral on 16 April.

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.

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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.

A unique exhibition of ecclesiastical embroidery from the collections of the Royal School of Needlework

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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.

David Mach’s Distinguished Sculpture on Loan for Three Months

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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.

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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.

A Christmas Carol

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.

Remembrance Poppy 3 Poppy Vice Dean Hawes Remembrance Poppy 2

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 LEGO project –London Mayor, Boris Johnson became the first celebrity bricklayer, tens of thousands have taken part in building the scale model in aid of the Education Department
  • Alice in Wonderland Exhibition – has helped change the core demographic of cathedral visitors with an increase of 30% of families and a 20% increase in 24 – 44 year olds
  • Cathedral at Height Tower Tour – this multi-award winning attraction won the RICS award for Leisure and Tourism in the Northwest and over 15,000 people have now completed the tour since April 2014
  • Falconry and Nature Gardens – opened in the centre of the city
  • Renovation of four Georgian properties for residential letting
  • The Cathedral was awarded a 2014 and now 2015 Trip Advisor Excellence award

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.

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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

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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.

 


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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.


 

Press Contact

Kevin Baxter
Marketing Manager
01244 500959
kevin.baxter@chestercathedral.com