St Marie’s Cathedral launched a ‘Virtual Tour’ video and a web-based guide as part of its contribution to the Heritage Open Days initiative.
The annual Heritage Open Days event is England’s largest community heritage festival and is intended to be an opportunity for communities nationwide to come together to learn, explore and have fun by sharing the treasures on their doorstep.
The theme was ‘Hidden Nature’ and the Cathedral Church of St Marie’s video and web guide focussed on the hidden nature that can be found in the cathedral’s stained glass windows, carvings, statuary and tiling.
Eileen Maher, cathedral Heritage Days representative and tour organiser, explained, “We had to take a different approach because of the pandemic, so we produced the video, which people can watch at home, and the web guide, which can be viewed on a Smartphone or a computer. We couldn’t organise guided tours, but we can still welcome people who can use the web guide on their ‘phone as they walk around the cathedral – and there will be stewards to ensure everyone is safe and all the regulations about social distancing are followed.”
Cathedral Dean, Fr Christopher Posluszny, added, “We have had to make a lot of changes since the Cathedral re-opened to ensure people are safe at Mass, when they come to pray or if they visit. We are conscious that many people for whom it is not safe to leave their homes feel the loss of being able to be in church deeply, which is why we continue to live-stream Masses and why we have launched this new initiative to highlight some of the beautiful and symbolic art in the Cathedral.”
St Marie’s hidden nature includes lions and lambs, whales and fish, pomegranates and palm leaves in addition to the fossil of an ammonite – a type of prehistoric sea snail, many of which can be found at Whitby. Legend has it that the ammonites were the remains of a plague of snakes which St Hilda, the Abbess of Whitby, miraculously turned to stone, saving the town.
The video and web tour can be found at:
St Marie’s is located on Norfolk Row and is open Monday to Saturday from 11.30 to 18.00 for personal prayer. Visitors wanting to follow the Heritage Open Days tour are welcome Monday to Saturday from the finish of the lunchtime Mass, at around 13.15 to just before the evening Mass starts at 17.30.
Everyone visiting the Cathedral has to wear a mask inside and leave their telephone number for ‘Track and Trace’ purposes if they stay for longer than 15 minutes. Currently only half of the pews are in use and there are limits on the number of people who can sit in the pews to ensure social distancing.