November & December 2023 – Before planning your visit, please check our ‘Visitor Notices’ for accessibility updates and one-off changes to opening times. Click here to view.
A BEACON OF LIGHT
Dare You Climb the Tower?
This article was written by Rachael Rickwood, the Learning and Activities Officer at the Cathedral. It was first published in the June 2022 edition of Link, the monthly newspaper for the Diocese of Newcastle.
‘Dare You Climb the Tower?’ is an exciting new regular series of tours of Newcastle Cathedral’s Lantern Tower. We’ve occasionally opened up the Tower for visitors in the past, which people have really loved. This is the first time we’re doing this on a regular basis after much demand and anticipation.
We started in May by offering tours five times a week. These are an opportunity for visitors to journey up the 162 steps of our historic Lantern Tower. It gets quite tight at times so it’s not for the faint-hearted – it’s a little bit steep and a bit of a squeeze in places. But it really is worth the effort!
You get some beautiful viewpoints across the roof of the Nave, and then breathtaking panoramic sights at the very top of the Cathedral. The Lantern Tower was built in the 1400s so has been a key part of the landscape of Newcastle through its expansion and development.
Halfway up the Tower, we stop at the bell ringing room which is a fascinating part of the cathedral that is not usually open to everybody when they visit. At this point in the tour, visitors hear about the bell ringers and the history of bell ringing at Newcastle Cathedral.
Above: Visitors enjoying a Lantern Tower Tour. Credit: Roy Chen
The majority of the tours will be led by our amazing group of Cathedral volunteers. It’s a really exciting way to get involved with the Cathedral and we’re always looking for new volunteers to help deliver more exciting tours.
Our Lantern Tower Tours have been really popular. Luckily the weather has held off and intrepid climbers have been able to fully experience the amazing panoramic views from the rooftop. Local blogger, New Girl in Toon, recently told her followers “You’ve not truly seen our beautiful city until you’ve had the bird’s eye experience!”. And many more have posted their selfies and pictures on their social media pages, showing their experiences too.
This artwork is part of our ‘Wellbeing and Discovery’ season, which continues into the summer, with events that will invite you to take time to contemplate and explore the space.
Our intention is to make Lantern Tower Tours a regular, ongoing occurrence which will continually encourage new visitors to step inside and experience this special building for the first time. We also have a short film about the history of the Lantern Tower, which we plan to show regularly for visitors who are unable – or would rather not make the climb themselves.
New tour dates are announced monthly so there is no need to worry about missing out.