Portsmouth’s ‘Cathedral of the Sea’ offers new experiences for visitors and explorers from 17 May.

Portsmouth Cathedral’s app will include tours, interactive content, augmented reality experiences, with more to be launched in the future.

Portsmouth Cathedral is pleased to announce the Cathedral’s reopening to visitors and explorers from 17 May 2021, alongside launching exciting new visitor experiences created with funding from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage. 

Over recent months Portsmouth Cathedral has remained open as a place of worship, holding a reduced pattern of services and offering a place for prayer and quiet reflection. From 17 May, we are delighted to be reopening to visitors and explorers once again after almost six months.

Visitors to the Cathedral will be able to encounter the stories and secrets behind our 800 years of history via a new mobile app hosting new interactive experiences, including augmented reality, virtual tours, and audio guides. 

When exploring the beautiful Cathedral Nave, a new augmented reality experience will show an alternative version of what might have been if the proposed 1960s modernist designs for the Nave by world-renowned architects, Studio Nervi, had been built. We have worked with local digital development agency Purple Realtime to create this and other 3D elements on the app, including a 3D model of Portsmouth Cathedral over the centuries.

New audio guides and interactive tours available on the app will allow visitors to explore the Cathedral at their own pace. There will be a choice of free and paid tours, as well as a special ‘Explorers Tour’ for families. The app will also allow visitors to book for our popular guided tours, including new seasonal and themed tours, when they resume later in the year. Touch screens around the building will enable those without the app to learn more about the Cathedral in new and engaging ways. 

The Dean of Portsmouth, the Very Revd Dr Anthony Cane, was excited to share the news of the Cathedral’s reopening and new digital offering. “We have really missed being able to welcome visitors to our Cathedral over the past months. We have been pleased to offer the opportunity to visit for prayer and some services, and as restrictions ease we look forward to opening up more of our building for visitors and pilgrims.” The Dean added, “New digital experiences, including our app which offers audio guided tours, as well as virtual reality and interactive screens will add a wonderful new element when visiting the Cathedral.”

Portsmouth Cathedral has also been working hard to improve other aspects of the visitor experience, including our shop. The past year has highlighted the importance of shopping locally and supporting small business. Portsmouth Cathedral is located in the heart of Old Portsmouth, less than a 15 minute walk away from Gunwharf Quays’ wealth of big brands and chains. The proximity of the Cathedral to these stores highlighted a lack of any ‘one-stop-shop’ featuring local creators, craftspeople and artists, with Portsmouth being no stranger to imaginative start-ups and small business. Our revitalised shop meets this need by bringing together local creators and makers from across Portsmouth and further afield, alongside a brand-new collection of unique products exclusive to the Cathedral. 

Richard Abraham, Chief Operating Officer, said, “For several years, the Cathedral’s shop has provided an assorted range of gifts, books, bibles, and homeware. Thanks to the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage, we were able to work with industry-leading retail consultants to identify new product ranges as well as the opportunity to delve into the archives and create some truly unique products in our new Cathedral Collection.

We found that despite being home to a wealth of creative talent, there are few places in the city you can find a curated selection of local products and gifts. And so we are particularly excited to be working with a small selection of small brands and makers, with the intention to continue developing our offering and bring together all that makes Portsmouth unique.”

Our new products are available for purchase online now at https://shop.portsmouthcathedral.org.uk/ and from the Cathedral in-person from 17 May. Every purchase will directly support our work and mission.

From 17 May, Portsmouth Cathedral will continue to be open daily from 10 am to 2 pm and 12:45 pm to 2 pm on Sundays. As before, the Cathedral will have measures in place to ensure the safety of all visitors, staff, and volunteers. Our regular service pattern will continue, including the beautiful and reflective service of Choral Evensong at 5:30 pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays during term time.

To find out more about visiting Portsmouth Cathedral, visithttps://www.portsmouthcathedral.org.uk/visiting-portsmouth-cathedral for further information.