The historian Dr David Starkey will officially open to the public the new Visitor and Learning Centre at Peterborough Cathedral, on Saturday 10th September at 2.00pm.
Re-enactors dressed as medieval knights will provide a guard of honour for Dr Starkey as he cuts a ribbon across the entrance to the new Centre. Everyone is welcome to witness the ceremony which will take place during Heritage Open Weekend at the Cathedral.
Once the ribbon has been cut, the public will be welcomed into the Centre for the first time to see new displays illustrating the Cathedral’s history, its people and its faith, from Anglo-Saxon times right up to the present day.
There is something for everyone to enjoy in the Centre, with a timeline showing priceless artefacts, as well as hands-on exhibits and a digital touch-table for visitors to follow the Cathedral story through pictures, discovering some amazing facts. There is also an audio presentation for those who prefer to listen rather than to look.
The opening of the Centre is the culmination of two years’ work in carefully conserving and converting two listed buildings in the Precincts. It is the second part of an ambitious project to improve physical and intellectual access to the Cathedral in the years leading up to its 900th anniversary in 2018. The first phase, installing level access and glazed doors at the West Front entrance of the Cathedral, was completed in April 2015. The whole project has been supported by a £2.4 million Heritage Lottery grant, as well as contributions from other donors.
“It is wonderful to see the new Centre completed and open to visitors,” said the Very Revd Charles Taylor, Dean of Peterborough. “We hope that people of all ages and backgrounds will find it a welcoming place that enriches their visit to our magnificent Cathedral. We are enormously grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund and all those who have enabled us to bring this project to fruition.”
Following the opening ceremony, Dr Starkey will be available to sign copies of his books at the Centre. There will be a book stall in association with Waterstones.
The Centre will be open to the public daily from 10.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Saturday, and from 11.00am to 4.00pm on Sundays. There is no charge for entry but donations are encouraged to help with Cathedral running costs.
What you can see in Centre on the opening day:
On the ground floor are displays about the history of the Cathedral. Amongst the priceless artefacts exhibited are the original letter from King James I, written in 1613, asking for the mortal remains of his mother, Mary Queen of Scots, to be removed from Peterborough to Westminster Abbey. Also on show is the Deed of Endowment by which King Henry VIII changed Peterborough Abbey into a Cathedral on the creation of the Diocese of Peterborough in 1541. The displays and historical illustrations have been produced by leading exhibition designers, Haley Sharpe Design.
The Exhibition Room
On the mezzanine is an Exhibition Room showing temporary exhibitions. The current exhibition is Affinity and Kindred: Lives shaped by sea and faith, an exhibition of colour photographs by the late Richard Denyer.
The Palace View Room
On the first floor is the Palace View Room, a meeting or training room which is available for external bookings.
The Cathedral Learning Centre
On the top floor is the Learning Centre, with a fully equipped classroom and craft room for use by schools visiting the Cathedral. An exciting programme of activities entitled Learning in Inspiring Places is offered to visiting Primary and Secondary schools, covering various aspects of the curriculum. This work is headed up by Alex Carton, the Cathedral’s Schools and Families Officer.
The Knights’ Chamber
Also on the top floor is the 13th century Knights’ Chamber, an impressive space which may be hired for events and gatherings. This Grade I listed building and Scheduled Ancient Monument was originally constructed in around 1220 for the use of the sixty knights associated with Peterborough Abbey.
Both the Palace View Room and the Knights’ Chamber may be hired by external users. For details please contact Jackie Newman on 01733 355315 or Jackie.firstname.lastname@example.org
There is a lift in the building, and accessible toilet facilities on every floor.
Volunteering at the Centre
The Cathedral has recruited 28 volunteers to help out in the new Centre, welcoming visitors and answering their enquiries. The call for volunteers has been enthusiastically received and many of those on the rota are volunteering at the Cathedral for the first time. The volunteers will work alongside Natalie Freeman, the Visitor Centre Supervisor, and part-time Assistant Supervisor, Rachel Hancock.
Anyone still wishing to volunteer is welcome to contact Cathedral Volunteer Coordinator, Lisa Foulkes-Arnold on 01733 355316, Volunteer.Coordinator@peterborough-cathedral.org.uk