Your basket
Your basket
0 items - £0.00

Personal tools

Home News Cathedral volunteers test the system ahead of re-opening

Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Cathedral volunteers test the system ahead of re-opening

by Michael Ford last modified 21 May, 2021 04:15 PM

Nearly 300 Salisbury Cathedral volunteers, Blue Badge Guides and families tested the Cathedral’s new ticketing system and previewed developments to the visitor experience ahead of reopening to general visitors on Wednesday (19th May).

Cathedral volunteers test the system ahead of re-opening

Paula Price and her mum get to grips with the new Cathedral Tour. Original photo by Ash Mills

Visible changes include the levelling of the steep ramp into the Cloisters, which has been replaced by a gentle incline using paving that blends into the original Cloister floor. The work, carried out by the Cathedral’s expert masons and an external company, took nine weeks and was generously funded by the Friends of Salisbury Cathedral.

And the Welcome Desk has been replaced by an elegant, curved desk set off to one side, giving plenty of room for visitors to check in, and easy access to the shop.

The Cathedral’s ticketing system has also changed, with an all new ‘back office’ to ensure quicker and easier booking, as well as accommodating the government’s track and trace requirements.

Cathedral volunteers test the system ahead of re-opening- new Welcome desk- Original photo by Ash Mills
Chris Barnard, Salisbury Cathedral's Head Guide, checks in at the new Welcome desk. Original photo by Ash Mills

Cathedral staff have spent lockdown working with specialists to ensure the building’s story is being told as fully as possible, with new stories added to the visitor route. The theme of worship has been explored in more detail, reflecting the Cathedral’s pivotal role in the design and practice of worship before and after 1220.

In the 13th century, Salisbury Cathedral introduced the Sarum Rite, a form of worship which underpins many of the practices still found in the Book of Common Prayer. Processions were a major feature of the Sarum Rite, a practice reflected today in many of the Cathedral’s renowned services like Darkness to Light.

Extra elements have been added into the tour.

The Cathedral's PR and Travel Trade Manager Marie Thomas says:

"Have you ever noticed the ‘aumbries’ or cupboards in which the Holy Oils are stored in the Morning Chapel? Or wondered about the large ‘muniment’ chests in the aisle just outside the chapel? Perhaps you’ve puzzled about the huge Cross and weathervane that have been hidden away near the North Transept?

"There’s even a video of our Clerk of Works, Gary Price, climbing to the top of the Cathedral Spire to repair the Cathedral’s anemometer, or windspeed recorder.

"This new information, along with new images such as the Cathedral when flooded at the start of the last century, goes hand in hand with illustrative video that can be accessed via special QR codes on selected signs."

Art also remains an important part of the visitor experience. Antony Gormley’s enigmatic figure, GRIP NET, which stands high above the Cathedral Quire, is set to stay until 2022. Called ‘an angel for our times’ by the Times critic, Rachel Campbell-Johnston, the sculpture has stood in the Cathedral throughout the pandemic as a symbol of human strength and fragility. The sculpture was originally installed as part of Celebrating 800 years of Spirit and Endeavour, the art exhibition that marked the Cathedral’s 800th anniversary in 2020.

Two other pieces from the exhibition also remain on display: Peter Newman’s Skystation, an interactive sculpture that also acts as a piece of public seating allowing visitors to recline and contemplate of the sky and the Cathedral’s West Front, and Conrad Shawcross’ Formation 1 (The Dappled Light of the Sun), sited in the north west corner of the Cathedral lawn, where the interplay between light and shadow beneath the sculpture invites the viewer to enjoy the shade of the sculpture just as they would the shade of a tree.

Speaking ahead of reopening, the Cathedral’s sub-Dean and Canon Chancellor, the Revd Edward Probert, said:

"We are grateful to the Friends of Salisbury Cathedral for covering the cost of our new entrance ramp, which makes the visitor entrance much more accessible. We are also thankful for the awards received via the Cultural Recovery Fund and Heritage Emergency Fund, which have helped to support us during the pandemic and allowed us to prepare so thoroughly for reopening.

"The new entrance and desk are certainly eye-catching and complement the Cathedral’s architecture, and we hope the new information, images and insights will make visiting the Cathedral even more special."

Document Actions