Diocese of Portsmouth

    Launch of new Pop-Up Cathedral to visit schools

    6 March 2020

    A PORTABLE version of Portsmouth Cathedral that can travel from school to school is being unveiled later this month.

    The ‘Pop-Up Cathedral’ is a large tent which features high-quality images from the cathedral printed onto the canvas. It gives schoolchildren the chance to sample cathedral life inside their own playgrounds.

    The mobile cathedral was created by Hampshire-based designer Ben Bracken, who photographed the cathedral’s stained-glass windows, stonework, roof tiles and doors, and then printed those images onto canvas.

    It will be officially launched outside the real Portsmouth Cathedral on March 31, when worshippers, local residents, teachers and others will be invited to see it for themselves. After that, schools across south-east Hampshire and the Isle of Wight will be invited to book for the Pop-Up Cathedral to visit them.

    A typical day in school might involve a variety of classes being given the chance to learn more about concepts such as love, faith and peace as they take part in activities in and around the Pop-Up Cathedral.

    It has already had its first trial outing with pupils from the Federation of Liss Infant and Junior Schools, near Petersfield. The mobile cathedral appeared in the playground at Liss Infant School and more than 100 children were given a chance to try it out throughout the school day.

    They stamped their fingerprints on paper to show their uniqueness and value; reflected on images of landscapes as they thought about appreciating our wonderful world; and paused inside the Pop-Up Cathedral itself to experience hope. Cathedral staff Sarah Page and Eve Davenport led the pupils on their pilgrimage – alongside the rector of St Mary’s, Liss, the Rev Chris Williams.

    Children from Liss Infant School take part in activities relating to pilgrimage before the enter the Pop-Up Cathedral
    Cathedral staff Eve Davenport (left) and Sarah Page lead the pupils on their pilgrimage with the rector of Liss, the Rev Chris Williams

    Jillian Myers, executive headteacher of the Federation said: “Our pupils were filled with awe as they stepped into the Cathedral. It was a peaceful, calming place that made a great impact on them and provoked thought on how we all fit into this world. The children were fully engaged and excited in all activities. The pitch and delivery by Sarah and Eve was excellent, supported with exceptional care for the children. Thank you for a fantastic day.“

    And cathedral education officer Sarah Page said: “It was great to be able to unveil the Pop-Up Cathedral and see how children reacted to it. Many had never visited a cathedral, so this was a chance for the peace and spirituality associated with cathedrals to visit them instead. The feedback we had from the school was overwhelmingly positive, and we look forward to officially launching it so that everyone can see it in action.

    “We were really impressed with the design. Ben Bracken from ‘Bee Creative’ spent a lot of time photographing individual windows, parts of the roof, bits of stonework and objects displayed on the walls in our cathedral. To have them reproduced on the inside and outside of the canvas in this way is incredible.

    “Cathedrals across England are celebrating the Year of Pilgrimage this year, so it’s a perfect time for our Pop-Up Cathedral to do its own pilgrimage around the diocese. We hope it will grow relationships between schools, local churches and our cathedral.”

    Anyone is welcome to see the Pop-Up Cathedral in action outside Portsmouth Cathedral between 2pm and 4:30pm on March 31. Refreshments will be available. To indicate your interest, please email popup@portsmouthcathedral.org.uk or ring 023 9282 3300.

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    St Thomas's Street Old Portsmouth, PO1 2HH

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