A holy house made out of straw

Wed, 10/10/2012 - 14:55

A replica build of the one of the oldest places of Christian worship in Britain has been created - one fifth the size of the original and made entirely from straw bales. The unusual structure of Lichfield Cathedral was the brain child of local man Rob Gray, who runs a 2000 acre arable farm in Whittington and also has three children who attend Lichfield Cathedral School.

The project was undertaken as part of the celebrations for the British National Ploughing Championships on October 13th and 14th, which are being held on 250 acres of local farmland loaned by JF and BM Gray. The event also coincides with the environmental festival ‘Caring for Creation’ at Lichfield Cathedral, which runs from October 7th until the 14th. This environmental festival includes lectures from key-note speakers and the launch of the fairly-traded Cathedral Coffee on October 13th.

The Very Revd Adrian Dorber, Dean of Lichfield, who recently visited the structure commented: “The straw Cathedral is a really good scale model of Lichfield Cathedral. Passengers on the West coast mainline between Tamworth and Lichfield are going to have something surprising and delightful to spot. I wish the National Ploughing Championship every success as it returns to Staffordshire after 36 years at a week end when the Cathedral and Diocese are reflecting on our responsibility for the environment and on human stewardship of God’s creation.”

The structure took approximately 14 days and a team of people to build and includes details from the medieval cathedral including the Chapter House, buttresses and of course the three spires or ‘Ladies of the Vale’ for which the cathedral is well-known. Visitors to the Championships will have chance to get up close to the creation and also take part in fundraising activities organised by Rev. Fiona Haskett, the vicar of St. Giles Church in Whittington.

Farmer Rob Gray said of the project: “We wanted to mark our hosting of the National Ploughing Championships. We felt that building in bales, a scale model of Lichfield Cathedral was an ideal way of marking the occasion. Hopefully it will add to the attraction of the Ploughing match, and may also lead to Ploughing match attendees visiting the real Lichfield Cathedral.”

The British National Ploughing Championships
Up to 10,000 ploughing enthusiasts will be converging on the land in Whittington during the two-day event, when 256 ploughmen and plough-women will be showing their skills in the art of ploughing. The national event is held in a different location each year, but was held in Whittington in 1976. As well as ploughing the Festival includes vintage tractors, heavy horses, trade stands and an opportunity to see how farming has changed over the last 200 years.

The Championships take place just east of the A38 midway between Lichfield and Tamworth and will be signposted from all major roads in the area. For more information please visit www.ploughmen,co.uk or call 01302 852469.

Caring for Creation Festival at Lichfield Cathedral
Lichfield Cathedral is the host for the Caring for Creation Festival which runs until October 14th.

The Festival, which will take place on the anniversary of the Climate Justice campaign, will include a whole host of exciting environmental and spiritual activities. Key highlights include the launch of the new Lichfield Cathedral Coffee, a fairly-traded product which will raise funds towards HIV/AIDS education in Matlosane and also an afternoon seminar which will include key-note speakers from Exeter University and Operation Noah. For more information visit www.lichfield-cathedral.org and click on What’s On / Creation Festival.