Discover the monastic heritage of Gloucester Cathedral this summer!
By David Wood
Gloucester Cathedral launches a brand-new, family-friendly Summer Challenge that will run between Friday 4 August and Sunday 10 September 2023.
This challenge invites you to see how many of the Cathedral's activities you can complete during your visit; the activity sheet is a picnic basket and, just like a picnic, you can pick and choose which things you would like to do.
Each activity you complete will earn you a sticker. Once you have enough stickers to fill your picnic basket, you'll be awarded a prize.
As part of the challenge, visitors are invited to experience the history and architecture of this amazing building in a new way: lie on the floor, dress up as royalty or send a secret message in the Whispering Gallery.
This is the ideal activity for young (and young at heart!) visitors to take part in over the school summer holidays. The challenge will be available within normal visitor opening hours. There is no charge to take part, but donations to the Cathedral are welcome.
As part of the Summer Challenge, grown-ups are invited to enter a competition to win a luxury picnic hamper package, including Tea on the Green for four from the Cathedral's Monk's Kitchen. Details about how to enter can be found on the reverse of the challenge sheet.
The Labyrinth will also be returning to Gloucester Cathedral between Tuesday 8 August and Thursday 31 August. A Labyrinth is a winding path used for prayer and meditation, which pilgrims have been walking for thousands of years; the Labyrinth in Gloucester Cathedral is an exact replica of the one in Chartres Cathedral in France, which is believed to date from around 1200.
It will be located in the Nave of the Cathedral and will be available to walk for free within normal Cathedral opening hours. As you do so, you're encouraged to pause and take a moment to reflect or pray amidst the busyness of our day-to-day lives.
Then, on Wednesday 23 and Thursday 24 August, families are invited to take part in 'Monks, Medicine and Mayhem'. A wide array of events and activities will be happening around the Cloister and Chapter House, offering the chance to discover more about the world of the monks who used to live here.
When the Cathedral existed as the Abbey of St Peter, the monks followed the Rule of St Benedict, and the activities on offer will all take their inspiration from the five Benedictine rules: prayer, study, work, recreation and hospitality.
From the chance to create your own healing lip balm and take part in historic board games through to the opportunity to meet a medieval barber surgeon, there promises to be something to spark the imagination of visitors of all ages. The activities will run between 11am-3pm and are free to take part with no booking required; visitors are welcome to drop in and take part in as much or as little as they wish.
The Very Reverend Andrew Zihni, Dean of Gloucester, said: "It is wonderful to be able to offer this programme of activities during the summer holidays alongside our normal pattern of services and worship, and we hope there will be something for everyone.
"Following our Benedictine values and tradition, we are proud to be a place of welcome for all people of all ages. We hope that visitors will be able to engage with the many things we have on offer over the summer and see the Cathedral in new and creative ways."
Lorna Giles, head of visitor experience, added: "All are welcome to come and join in the fun at Gloucester Cathedral this August! The new Summer Challenge is a great way for families to learn more about this amazing building together, whilst the Labyrinth offers the chance to join an 1000-year long tradition.
"We're excited to host 'Monks, Medicine and Mayhem' for the first time too, which aims to bring our Benedictine roots to life for visitors young and old."
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