VISITORS to Chester will be able to get a bird’s eye view of the city when the cathedral’s historic tower opens to the public for the first time.
Due to start at the end of summer, the Cathedral at Heights tour will give visitors the chance to climb the tower’s spiral staircase and explore previously hidden passages and secret spaces.
As part of the ‘One City Plan’ and funded by Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC), the free-of-charge tour will be an adventure for visitors, providing an opportunity to walk through the upper galleries, explore the old ringing chamber and see what the vaulted stone ceilings look like from the ‘other’ side.
Visitors will be able to enjoy the view from the top of the tower and descend via the high level gallery over the high altar to experience a spectacular view of the interior of the building.
CWaC has subsidised the cost of entry to the tower, making it one of the most significant free to enter attractions in the city, in the hope of driving economic growth in Chester city centre.
Cllr Herbert Manley, executive member for prosperity, said: “We believe opening the cathedral tower will bring economic benefit to the city centre because of the expected increase in visitor numbers.
“The new tour at this world-renowned cathedral will, I am sure, be enjoyed by local people and also tourists because not only will they be able to enjoy views of the city, but also gain a different insight of inside the cathedral.”
Work has been carried out on the site to ensure public safety, with the opening date anticipated to be after the Chester Mystery Plays, in late July or early August.
Tours to the top of the tower will be able to accommodate 20 visitors at a time, with five to six different tour sessions running each day, and themed tours planned for Christmas and special personal events, including anniversaries.
The Dean of Chester, the Very Revd Professor Gordon McPhate, said: “The cathedral is proud to be supporting the One City Plan with delivery of this an early win for the city.
“We thank the council for their support and look forward to an interesting 2013 at the cathedral with Cathedral at Heights and the Chester Mystery Play.”
The One City Plan aims to deal with transport and movement issues. It takes into account all key objectives for the city, including new developments and ambitions for pedestrianisation, managing air quality and housing and employment growth.