Ex­plor­ing those hid­den places . . .

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Cathedral View -

Whether we ad­mit it or not, we all like to be a lit­tle bit nosey. We all have a cu­rios­ity about build­ings we haven’t been into, or some­times won­der what goes on be­hind the scenes in those places that are more fa­mil­iar.

One op­por­tu­nity to ful­fil this urge is with an an­nual scheme called Her­itage Open Days. Ev­ery Septem­ber thou­sands of free events are held across the UK to cel­e­brate our fan­tas­tic his­tory, ar­chi­tec­ture and pub­lic build­ings, pro­vid­ing a chance to see in­side spa­ces not nor­mally open to the pub­lic. This year Her­itage Open Days are from Thurs­day 8th to Sun­day 11th Septem­ber.

There are over 20 such events in Peter­bor­ough, in­clud­ing be­hind the scenes tours at fa­mil­iar build­ings such as the Mu­seum or the Key The­atre, to tours around his­toric build­ings that aren’t nor­mally pub­licly open, such as the Cus­toms House and RAF West­wood Of­fi­cer’s Mess. More mod­ern pub­lic build­ings, such as the Town Hall, Thomas Dea­con Academy and the En­ergy Re­cov­ery Cen­tre on Fen­gate are also of­fer­ing tours.

Peter­bor­ough Cathe­dral is no ex­cep­tion, open­ing up build­ings around the Precincts not nor­mally open to view. Amongst some of th­ese ex­tra­or­di­nary spa­ces is the Cathe­dral Li­brary, above the Gothic porch at the Cathe­dral’s West Front, and the King’s Lodg­ing above the gate­house, with its me­dieval prison. There will be rare ac­cess to the 15th cen­tury Ta­ble Hall, once part of the abbey’s In­fir­mary, and Al­moner’s Hall, from which char­ity was dis­trib­uted to the me­dieval res­i­dents of Peter­bor­ough.

There’s hands-on ac­tiv­i­ties too, in­clud­ing fun fam­ily crafts in the Dean­ery Gar­den and sto­ry­telling on Tout Hill, the re­mains of Peter­bor­ough’s cas­tle. Our me­dieval past will be brought vividly to life with knights in ar­mour on the green out­side the Cathe­dral, giv­ing talks and demon­stra­tions il­lus­trat­ing life in the Mid­dle Ages.

One of the high­lights of the week­end will be the of­fi­cial open­ing of the Cathe­dral’s new Vis­i­tor and Learning Cen­tre, af­ter two years of care­ful con­ser­va­tion and the in­stal­la­tion of some ex­cit­ing new dis­plays. The Cen­tre is part of a wider project to im­prove ac­cess to the Cathe­dral and its his­tory, sup­ported by a £2.4 mil­lion Her­itage Lottery Fund grant. Al­ready a few school groups have tested out the newly equipped class­rooms that form the Learning Cen­tre on the top floor, but this will be the first time that the gen­eral pub­lic has had the chance to see in­side the build­ing.

The Cen­tre, which is free of charge to en­ter, will en­able visi­tors to dis­cover more about the his­tory and pur­pose of the Cathe­dral. It also in­cludes an ex­hi­bi­tion space for tem­po­rary ex­hi­bi­tions, and meet­ing rooms which can be hired by ex­ter­nal or­gan­i­sa­tions. Th­ese in­clude the stun­ning 13th cen­tury Knights’ Cham­ber, which will be open to view over the week­end.

If you want to ex­plore some of th­ese hid­den spa­ces (and why wouldn’t you?) you can find out more at the Her­itage Open Days web­site at www.her­ita­geopen­days.org. uk. For more in­for­ma­tion on the Cathe­dral’s events, visit www.peter­bor­ough-cathe­dral.org.uk.

Go on, be nosey!

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