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The prospect of rain on an autumnal weekday evening didn’t stop 1,500 people from attending the annual Cathedral Open Evening on Tuesday 9th October.
Cathedral staff and volunteers were delighted that so many people had come along to take part in the evening, which is designed to give visitors a fascinating opportunity to learn and sample the skilled craftsmanship that goes into preserving one of this country’s most iconic landmarks.
The event began at 5.30 pm with a service of Evensong, and went on until about 9.30 pm, with exhibitions and displays throughout the Cathedral. There were 24 stands manned by Cathedral staff and volunteers. Displays, exhibitions and workshops were on hand and public participation was greatly encouraged. Visitors had the opportunity to try their hand at a number of skilled crafts including applying gold leaf, carving stone, and brass rubbing. Free guided and audio tours were on offer and visits to the private chapels, the Bell tower, the organ loft, and the choir practice room were greeted with keen enthusiasm and wonder.
Celebrations on such a special evening were in full swing. A new chamber Organ, a gift to the Cathedral by the Friends of Canterbury Cathedral, was blessed by the Bishop of Dover, the Rt Revd Trevor Willmott, during the service of Evensong.
The appraised author, academic and medieval expert, Michael Alexander, attended the evening and happily chatted about and signed copies of his new book Geoffrey Chaucer.
The evening paid homage to the hidden heroes that had protected the Cathedral throughout the years. As 2012 marks the 70th anniversary of several devastating air-raids on Canterbury, the Archives department put on an exhibition of commemorative photographs, artefacts and information about the Cathedral’s Fire Watchers, with many exhibits from the War.
We were delighted that so many people came along to the Open Evening; the Cathedral was a hive of activity and it was fantastic to see so many people trying their hand at some of the skilled crafts that we use to preserve and protect this special building. The staff and volunteers work very hard to make sure that all the visitors have a wonderful evening and I think, judging from the atmosphere in here this evening, they have succeeded wonderfully.
Lisa Emanuel, Cathedral spokesperson
The annual event is an opportunity for one and all to discover Canterbury Cathedral, and if you’re upset that you missed it, then get your diaries out because we can exclusively reveal that the 2013 Open Evening will be held on Tuesday 8th October 2013.