Tourism

Norwich Cathedral farewells controversial ‘helter skelter’ with Bishop’s sermon on slide

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

The Norwich Cathedral has said farewell to a 15-metre slide, built in an effort to entice visitors, with a Bishop delivering a sermon on it.

On 8 August, the Norwich Cathedral, in east England, controversially opened a ‘helter skelter’ slide to the public, giving visitors a ride for £2 ($3.50) a pop.

Around 10,000 people enjoyed the ride over the course of its 10-day stay at Norwich Cathedral.

The installation came as part of the church’s ‘Seeing it Differently’ project, which aimed to offer new perspectives and to “open up conversations about faith”.

“Many will want to focus on the sheer numbers we have been able to welcome into the Cathedral and the relaxed happy and joyous atmosphere in the Cathedral,” Revd Canon Andy Bryant said on Norwich Cathedral’s website.

But despite Reverend Bryant’s comments, not everyone was impressed by the installation. As theologian Gavin Ashenden, a former chaplain to Queen Elizabeth, told ABC News, installations of this nature “detracted from the proper purpose of the buildings”.

A Twitter user on social media who alleges to have taken the slide said they found it “strangely moving”.

“We took the kids on it yesterday. I found it strangely moving, still haven’t completely worked out why. Nice to have plenty of child like joy in The House though,” Twitter user @Birds_Of_Hell said.

Norwich Cathedral said the helter skelter ride was designed to enable people to get closer than ever before to the Cathedral’s medieval roof bosse – an area that tells stories from the Bible, and houses the largest collection of its kind in the world.

The Bishop of Lynn, the Right Reverend Jonathan Meyrick, delivered a sermon from the helter skelter before taking the symbolic final slide during the service on Sunday 18 August in which candles were lit and the lights of the helter skelter were turned off one last time.

Image: Norwich Cathedral/Bill Smith. The Bishop of Lynn taking the closing service of Seeing it Differently at Norwich Cathedral.
Image: Norwich Cathedral/Bill Smith. The Bishop of Lynn taking the closing service of Seeing it Differently at Norwich Cathedral.

The Reverend Canon Andy Bryant, the Cathedral’s Canon for Mission and Pastoral Care and who came up with the idea for ‘Seeing it Differently’, also led a time of reflection on the project which first opened to the public on Thursday 8 August and ran until Sunday 18 August.

ABC News reported the helter skelter was another effort by the Church of England to entice visitors and followed the decision of Rochester Cathedral to house a mini-golf course in its nave.

Featured image: ‘The Bishop of Lynn speaking from the helter skelter for the closing service of Seeing it Differently at Norwich Cathedral’ by Norwich Cathedral/Bill Smith.

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