Bradford Cathedral enjoyed big success in the February half-term with the launch of its family activities headed up by the Director of Education and Visitors Maggie Myers and her team. On offer were a range of activities aimed at families including guided tours and paper-craft activities, with others focused on younger children including a dot-to-dot pelican.
“Pelicans are significant in the Cathedral. There is a self-guided tour which you can do, called the Pelican Trail, where you can spot the pelicans that are hidden around, but it also reveals lots of details about the history of Bradford Cathedral as you go around. A lot of families went around and did this after the activities.”
As well as the trail there were also guided tours around the Cathedral which were tailored for the ages of those involved.
One of the most popular attractions on offer were the paper-craft activities including a variety of themes, including painting your own stained glass window, based on those around the building; and designing your own coat of arms for a heraldic shield, using symbolism based on their own personality and identity.
There was also a version based on Eva Mileusnic’s ‘Counter-Flow’ exhibition of migrating porcelain feet, where children could create their own design.
“We had a template of a foot and we showed the families Eva’s designs and then they did their own design, based on their personalities and favourite patterns.”
Running the half-term activities was a way of reaching out to new groups in the Cathedral. “We’ve had children on school visits, and when they leave we say to them that it’s their Cathedral and to come back and visit, so it’s providing opportunities for them to come back with their families.
“Some of the children who came had been here on a school trip, and when they came back they wanted to do the Pelican Trail and take their parents round, and show them parts of the Cathedral that they remembered from last time, which was great to see.
“It was really good for the parents to see what the children had been doing on their school trips. The Cathedral is such an inspiring space, and has so much potential for children and families to come and do some things here. Opening up at half-term seemed like a great opportunity that we couldn’t miss!”
Feedback was very positive from those who attended the half-term events. “The children that had been here before were really proud that they were explaining things to the other members of their family. They were new things to see, such as the new exhibition. Many people who came were not Christians or familiar with churches and they were really interested in learning more about Christianity, and also the history of the building.
“A big thing we get from visitors who haven’t been in before is that they don’t get how important this building is, and has been, to Bradford’s history, not just in terms of Christianity but in the city itself, that it’s played such a big role in the history.
“People find that so interesting and inspiring; even the parents took a lot away from the visit, and enjoyed themselves. Many don’t know how much there is to see and learn about in the Cathedral.”
The Education and Visitors team are now planning future activity sessions for the Easter holidays and future breaks, which will see the activities run in February joined by themes appropriate to the time of year.
“Because we’re teachers and know a lot about the building we’re able to interpret the Cathedral for whatever age group or combination of family members that we’ve got coming, from very young children, to grandparents who are interested in different things. There’s enough expertise between us to answers lots of questions.
“It’s always a very interesting trip out. If you want to do something different, come here. If you want to learn more about Bradford itself, maybe you’ve lived here a long time but you’ve never been in the Cathedral, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find.
A visit to the Cathedral can also form part of a day out in Bradford, located as it is close to both train stations and the city centre, as well as the beautiful architecture of the Wool Exchange and the Broadway shopping centre. “Bradford Cathedral is a lovely stop on the way. You can spend a few hours here doing the activities, going on a tour, or reading about the Cathedral.
“We’re also open to suggestions and open to new ideas. For example, in the summer, ahead of the ACT performance of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in the grounds of the Cathedral, we’ll be doing some Shakespeare-themed activities for children.”