Hundreds of people joined historian David Starkey at the opening of the new visitor centre at Peterborough Cathedral.
Following a preview for funders and those who had been working on the project, the historian and broadcaster Dr Starkey performed the public opening on Saturday, cutting a ribbon above the entrance as re-enactors dressed as knights looked on.
In spite of pouring rain around 300 visitors crossed the threshold to look at the displays about the Cathedral’s history. Amongst the priceless artefacts exhibited are the original letter from King James I, written in 1613, asking for the mortal remains of his mother, Mary Queen of Scots, to be removed from Peterborough to Westminster Abbey.
There are also hands-on exhibits and a digital touch-table for visitors to follow the Cathedral story through pictures and discover some amazing facts. There is also an audio presentation for those who prefer to listen rather than to look.
Dean of Peterborough, the very rev Charles Taylor said the centre ‘expressed a corporate vision of what a Cathedral community should be and how it can better reach out to, engage with and serve its city, diocese and wider region as an open and inclusive resource.”
He also paid tribute to the generosity of those trusts and individuals whose donations had produced the match funding required to complete the project. He praised the Project Board under the chairmanship of Canon Jonathan Baker, the Project Manager Stephen Crane, the fundraising team and the Cathedral Development and Preservation Trust under the chairmanship of Simon Schanschieff, as well as those whose practical skills had made the Centre a reality.
The Centre will be open to the public daily from 10am to 5pm Monday to Saturday, and from 11am to 4pm on Sundays. There is no charge for entry but donations are encouraged to help with Cathedral running costs.