We meet some of the people creating the magic that Chester offers to both visitors and residents Cheshire Life: December 2018 Cheshire Life: December 2018
Chester Cathedral has a new Dean, The Very Reverend Dr Tim Stratford, although he’s not new to the city. He was brought up in Liverpool and recalls visiting Chester when he was a boy.
‘It was only a ferry ride away and that was always exciting,’ he says as he prepares for the busiest season in the Church’s calendar, Christmas.
‘But it is the first time I have lived here and I am looking forward to getting about both in the city and the county.’
‘The Dean’s role reaches right across the county and represents not only Chester but the whole diocese that includes parts of Merseyside, Manchester and Derbyshire.’
‘The Church of England is split into 42 dioceses and each has a Bishop as its leader. The cathedral is seen as the mother of the church and the Dean is the representative for mother church.
‘Most of my time is spent ensuring the cathedral serves the city and its people well. We are one of the oldest in the country and so we are responsible too for a lot of history, looking after the building and its artefacts and then making sure people can see them and appreciate them, that is part of my role.’
The challenges for Dr Tim are like those of anyone with a large old building to maintain and that is raising enough money to look after it. He says the Church of England is deemed rich but it’s wealth is invested in property.
Another aim is to make the cathedral welcoming and hospitable to people.
‘It is easy to slip into thinking that we should be here for the building when in fact the building is here for the people,’ he says.
‘Christmas time is when we have a lot of opportunity to show what the cathedral has to offer but that also means we put ourselves under a lot of stress and the consequences of that can be that we aren’t as welcoming. It’s about keeping that balance right so we don’t lose a sense of proportion and not to take ourselves too seriously.’
There are exciting times ahead for the cathedral which he says will be a place of exhibitions, installations, performance arts, music and worship and for social gathering.
‘We will be setting a theme for the year,’ he explains.
‘The next theme is water and we will be putting on a lot of events and installations within the building. Water is where Christian life begins, initially with baptism. There will be art, music, family events and an exclusive exhibition called The Deep. I can’t say anything about it but people will notice it.’
As one person enters the cathedral another says adieu.
Jo Sykes has been the Chair of Chester’s Mystery Plays at the cathedral since the 1990s.
“Most of my time is spent ensuring the cathedral serves the city and its people well”