We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has announced support for The Canterbury Journey project and look forward to developing the project in detail.
Canterbury Cathedral is the goal of more than a million journeys every year and as such has a huge impact on the lives of local residents as well as millions of visitors. For the Cathedral’s own journey to continue and to enhance the lives of many more people, a wide range of initiatives and improvements have been brought together under ‘The Canterbury Journey’ theme.
The Canterbury Journey will radically transform the accessibility and sustainability of Canterbury Cathedral. It will safeguard an iconic building which embodies England’s story, increase the number and broaden the range of those who journey to it, and enrich their experience.
A new Welcome Centre will offer improved learning, hospitality and a hitherto inaccessible view of one of Europe’s most important churches. New trails will guide visitors through the Cathedral and its newly landscaped Precincts, interpreting their journey and revealing unseen treasures from Canterbury’s past. New visitors (including children and families) will join the journey as a programme of outreach to schools and communities unfolds. A new pass scheme will swell the company of contemporary pilgrims and deepen the Cathedral’s relationship with its neighbours. And the fabric of the Cathedral’s western end, currently endangered, will be restored and enhanced, allowing Canterbury’s journey to continue.
We are proud of the work of our Schools’ Office which offers superb facilities to visiting schools. However, not all Kent schools are able to visit and we will introduce an outreach programme and learning facilities to those unable to journey here. From assembly workshops to loan boxes and on-line learning material, we want many more young people to learn about the Cathedral’s rich history and feel a deeper connection with it.
Opening up the Collections
The Cathedral Archives & Library hold important as well as beautiful documents, manuscripts, charters and books that date back to the 8th century, but which are mostly hidden away from the public. An exciting programme of exhibitions, talks and workshops will bring the collections into the visitor experience.
A new Welcome Centre, facing onto the busy Buttermarket, will bring the Cathedral into the heart of the city, offering a more appropriate welcome to residents and visitors. To enrich the visitor’s journey, it will offer interpretation as well as information on events and activities.
Hospitality and Community Engagement
The new Welcome Centre will allow us to develop the area of the current facilities into a café/refectory, community area and terrace with stunning views of the Cathedral.
The community area will be used to offer a wide range of activities for local residents as well as visitors; children will learn how to build a cathedral or make a stained glass window; Cathedral stonemasons will be able to show their craftsmanship and talks on music, history, architecture and conservation will give a better insight into Cathedral life.
The area between Christ Church Gate and the Cathedral will be transformed; pilgrims’ benches will offer weary pilgrims an attractive place to reflect; new smooth paving stones will make the journey into the Cathedral easier for wheelchair users and interpretation, started in the new Welcome Centre, will continue.
Smartcard technology will be introduced for resident passes to be able to inform and communicate with residents. Special offers and activities may be tailored to interests, and passes will be offered to families whose children are engaged with the Cathedral through its new Schools’ outreach programme.
Apprenticeships and Work Placements
The Cathedral will offer work placements in all aspects of The Canterbury Journey project, from hospitality to visitor welcome, landscaping to conservation. It will also offer four stonemason apprenticeships to ensure these ancient and important skills continue to thrive.
Urgent conservation work to Christ Church Gate, the main gate into the precincts, weatherproofing and re-leading the Nave roof and West Towers, together with stonemasonry to the upper Nave buttresses and conservation of the Nave stained glass windows will ensure the Cathedral’s integrity and longevity.
Over the next few months a project team will be appointed which together with existing staff, will be tasked to develop the project in detail over the next two years. These will then be submitted to HLF and, once approved, the project will be delivered over five years.
How can you become involved?
We want to involve residents, congregation and visitors throughout the project. We will set up focus groups to help during the development phase and we will rely even more on volunteers with research and pilot schemes.
We will also need further financial support, as we need to raise a considerable amount (£7.4M to be exact - of which £3.6M has been raised to date!) to complement the £12M grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.