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Rochester Cathedral opens crazy golf course to draw in younger crowds

Rochester Cathedral is opening a crazy golf course in an effort to pull in younger crowds.

The nine-hole green will be rolled out in the nave of the 900-year-old place of worship.

Themed around different types of bridge, it's the latest in a series of events and activities brought to churches and cathedrals to aid ailing congregation numbers.

Rochester Cathedral, Rochester. Stock shot. Byline - Picture by Peter Still (11283004)
Rochester Cathedral, Rochester. Stock shot. Byline - Picture by Peter Still (11283004)

In Norwich a 40ft helter skelter will be opened in August while a gin and prosecco festival is coming to Peterborough Cathedral in the same month.

Rochester's event will also take place in August, running throughout the month from 9am to 6pm.

It is being paid for by Rochester Bridge Trust, the charity which runs the town's river crossings.

Simon Lace, chapter clerk at Rochester, said: "We are trying to draw in new visitors and raise our profile. It is a short-term opportunity to enjoy a wonderful building in a new way."

The Church of England said it was "very supportive" of any initiative which makes buildings more accessible.

The event will take place in the nave
The event will take place in the nave

But not everyone has been so supportive.

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, a former prelate at Rochester, told the Mail on Sunday: "Crazy golf, helter-skelters and gin festivals are not in keeping with the sanctity of these wonderful places of worship.

"These are places where people come to pray to God and you have to ask whether these events are befitting of this."

One priest said it smacked of "dumbing down a bit", while Father James Mather, a priest in Norfolk, wrote on Twitter: "I imagine some small part of this venerable sacred building will be reserved for anyone who might wish to, er, say their prayers."

On Saturday the Cathedral is also hosting a Come and See giant picnic in the nave.

Visitors are invited to bring their fold up chairs and blankets down between midday and 4pm for the event, which also includes a 'be a monk' tour, bell ringing and puppet show.

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