Stir Up!


Stir Up! Cathedral Days

Inevitably when you bring your class to the cathedral they will not have the opportunity to see everything as if they were on a visit tailored specifically to your requirements.  Why not take time during the lunch hour or at the beginning or end of the day to take yout children around?  You will find a tour for visitors on the cathedral's own website.  Here are some of our favourite suggestions of things to see:

Ovin's Stone

This is the only artefact in the entire cathedral left from the time of Etheldreda and the Anglo-Saxons. Ovin was Etheldreda's steward and this stone is the base of a cross that would have marked his burial place.  Ovin was not originally buried in the area now covered by the cathedral, as the stone was found near Haddenham.

You will find Ovin's stone in the south aisle of the cathedral, next to the Prior's door.

The Lady Chapel

  • Explore the delayed echo by singing
  • Look at the statues and see if you find the ones which escaped damage at the Reformation (there are quite a few, but they are tucked away)
  • See if you can recognise any of the associations which donated new glass windows to the chapel
  • Look at the modern statue of Mary as she receives the news that she will be the mother of Jesus
  • And don't forget to look at the fabulous ceiling

The Labyrinth

  • Sometimes called the Maze, this labyrinth is inside the West Door under the tower.  If you walk the labyrinth you have covered the same distance as you would climbing the tower above you - can you estimate how high the tower is? (The answer should be 215 feet - 65.5 metres.)
  • While you are in this area take a look at the huge "Way of Life" sculpture on the north wall and talk about its meaning.

The Octagon

The service of worship on the Schools Days takes place under the Octagon - but make sure you take time to look up and enjoy this amazing sight!  The Octagon is unique - nothing exactly like this exists in any other English church.  The wooden tower was created to replace a stone tower which fell down in the fourteenth century.  It is held together by its own weight - no nails involved - and experts still aren't certain how the medieval craftsmen created it!

Painted Ceilings

  • There are some amazing Victorian painted ceilings in the cathedral in the Nave, the Octagon and the South-West Transept in particular. 
  • The Nave ceiling tells stories from the Bible - can you identify any of them?  (You should be able to spot the Nativity story at the east end of the Nave.)  This long ceiling was designed and painted by two artists - can you spot where one finished and the other began by looking at the colours and style of painting?
  • Try counting angels - how many are there on all the ceilings together?

Side Chapels

There are several small chapels in the cathedral and each has something of interest, try:

  • Counting the cockerels inside and outside of Bishop Alcock's chapel - there's also a mermaid hidden amongst them!
  • Looking at the memorial display boards in St George's Chapel - how many soldiers from your village died in the Great War?
  • Finding the memorials of some Anglo-Saxon heroes in Bishop West's Chapel

Sculptures and Carvings

There are both very old and very new sculptures and carvings in the Cathedral:

  • For some of the oldest and most interesting carvings take a look at the Prior's Door (shown here), these date back to the eleventh century and the very beginnings of the cathedral - and some of them are quite amusing, such as the two men in a boat who are rowing in opposite directions!
  • For a new sculpture, look at Mary Magdalene and the risen Jesus in the South Transept, or the carving above the pulpit which was designed to refelect the carving of Jesus raising his hand in blessing in the centre of the Octagon ceiling.