5 unmissable objects in Open Treasure’s new exhibition Tudors: The Family and Faith in Durham

The new exhibition Tudors: the Family and Faith in Durham in the Open Treasure Collections Gallery tells the story of the notorious Tudor dynasty, who ruled between 1485 and 1603. Laying the foundations for Britain’s transformation from medieval kingdom to major world power, monarchs from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I also had a remarkable impact on Durham Cathedral. The Tudor Age marked a time of social, political and religious upheaval.

Durham Cathedral was scarred by the infamous Dissolution of the Monasteries, the Reformation, and the founding of the Church of England, by also found plentiful new opportunities for those willing to embrace change. Exploring the lives of remarkable historical figures such as Henry VIII, Mary I and Elizabeth I, the Tudors exhibition demonstrates the influence of these monarchs on Durham Cathedral, and the monumental impact upon British history that is still felt today.

Discover what the Cathedral’s historic collections reveal about the history of this turbulent time…

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Cuthbertide: Life in Education at Durham Cathedral

In 995, the community of Saint Cuthbert arrived in Durham looking for that elusive safe place for Cuthbert to be laid to rest. After the journey of just over 200 years, they finally came and settled in Durham and that is the point Durham started to grow.

With the arrival of the Normans came the build of the Cathedral in 1093 and the show of power and strength of a new King.

The story of Cuthbert, as well as the build of the Cathedral, is important to us here in the Education Team; its influence is far reaching and its stories are plentiful. And we love a good story. It’s one of the best ways to connect with our younger visitors and it’s such a privilege to share it with the next generation. We feel it’s important to share this story with as many school groups as we can as these children are the next generation of people who might fall in love with the building, find a ‘wow’ moment as we tell the stories or look at the architecture, and these will live on with them and inspire them to continue to look after this building and its heritage for the years to come.

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Lent sermon: ‘I Am Because We Are’

In a Holy Communion service produced some years ago in Kenya, at the Breaking of the Bread, the text draws on the words of the African theologian John M-biti.  The text ran:

I am because we are.
We are because he (Christ) is.

For M-biti this idea of ‘I am because we are’ reflects a strong African sense of corporate identity and solidarity – in stark contrast to much European and North American thinking since the Enlightenment, which often stresses the individual. Margaret Thatcher’s infamous statement, ‘There is no such thing as society’, perhaps typifies this tendency towards individualism.

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Lilian Groves on Lent: a time for reading and reflection

The Maundy Thursday Eucharist Service is peculiar to Durham Cathedral. It’s the one in the year that’s a bit different from the others. But that’s perhaps why I have thoroughly enjoyed the two I have attended in Durham Cathedral, the most recent being just last year.

I typically split my Holy Week between Durham Cathedral and Holy Island, where my oldest friend is a priest. Lent is the one time a year she cannot really leave her congregation, so it makes sense for me to journey to the Island to see her, soaking up the atmosphere endemic to a village church – and especially one on Holy Island – as opposed to the much larger community of the Cathedral. Yet, last year, car trouble meant that I spent the week in Durham and attended the special Maundy Thursday Service.

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Open Treasure Spotlight: The Conyers Falchion

“My Lord Bishop, I hereby present you with the falchion wherewith the champion Conyers slew the worm, dragon or fiery serpent which destroyed man, woman and child; in memory of which the king then reigning gave him the manor of Sockburn, to hold by this tenure, that upon first entrance of every bishop into the county the falchion should be presented.”

Those are the words spoken at the bridge at Croft-on-Tees whenever a new Bishop of Durham enters the diocese for the first time.  But is there any truth to them?

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“It’s a real gift”: Margaret Devine on Lent

DSCN3696Margaret Devine, a volunteer Chaplain at Durham Cathedral, explains what Lent means to her this year:

Every year, Lent is different. For me personally, this is the first quiet, reflective Lent in many years. I made the decision last year to concentrate all my time here at the Cathedral, so I won’t be presiding at services in my parish. It’ll be nice for me to go to Cathedral service anonymously and sit amongst everyone, contributing as a participant rather than a leader.

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Opening up for Time To Talk Day with volunteer Cathedral chaplain David Grieve


1 February is Time to Talk Day, an opportunity to encourage those struggling with mental health issues to start a conversation with those they trust about what can often be an isolating state of mind. We talked with David Grieve, a volunteer chaplain at Durham Cathedral who has experienced the depths of depression himself.

David has recently published a book of poetry, ‘Hope in Dark Places’, about confronting mental health issues as a Christian. We spoke to him about his experiences of taking the first steps and opening up about mental health in his role as a volunteer chaplain at Durham Cathedral.

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The Shrine of St Cuthbert; A living place of worship, welcome and hospitality at the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.