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
The newly landscaped churchyard provides more than a lovely opportunity to find some green space in the city. Beautifully refurbished, the churchyard will play its part by looking outward upon the city it serves, offering new seating, imaginative landscaping and terraces as a welcoming place of sanctuary from the bustle of city life.
The ribbon and the roundels
If you look at the paving, you will see, going from the new East Entrance around the east and south elevations to the south door, a ‘ribbon’ of stone wrapping the church. This link or route around the perimeter of the building creates a series of flowing spaces that encourages visitors to engage and interact with the churchyard and the city beyond. Carved into the Carlow Blue stone are simple words that invoke a set of values for living: love, peace, justice, and worth. These values serve to remind us of the things that matter and inspire all who come to the churchyard to live better lives and work for the flourishing of the city.
Puncturing the pavement, carefully placed, are ten beautifully inscribed roundels in the same limestone as the ribbon. Each invites the visitor to pause and reflect, not just on their own life but also on the life of our great city. Each one offers a blessing – a wish for goodness, a desire for human thriving, a recognition in gratitude for all that others bring to our daily lives.
Click here for a case study from IP Surfaces about the creation of the paved ribbon and roundels.
In the New Testament (Matthew 5), the Beatitudes of Christ are for many the pinnacle of his teaching. The word ‘Beatitude’ simply means ‘happy’ or ‘Blessed’ and Christ turns upside down the common understanding of happiness. Inspired by his example, the roundels also offer an opportunity to see the deeper meanings of life and encourage in the visitor a desire for goodness for all. They transcend any religious framework and demand no belief, and yet they speak of things of the heart and do so in the heart of the city.
The ribbon and the roundels (or The Newcastle Beatitudes) offer a trail if you will, a walk with purpose, moments of reflection and hope, though each one stands with some integrity of its own. You could start the trail at any point or rest with the one that catches your eye. They offer a delightful way to begin a visit to the Cathedral or to leave its precincts to explore the city. We hope through them, you will call down blessings on our city and indeed, feel yourself truly blessed.
HarrisonStevens were commissioned to reimagine the Cathedral’s outdoor spaces as part of our Common Ground in Sacred Space project supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Click here to find out about their development process.