Portsmouth Cathedral in Old Portsmouth has been closed for six months, although it has remained open as a place of worship, holding a reduced pattern of services and offering a place for prayer and quiet reflection.
From May 17, the cathedral will reopen with new visitor experiences, created with funding from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage.
A new augmented reality experience will show an alternative version what might have been if the proposed 1960s modernist designs for the nave by world renowned architects, Studio Nervi, had been built.
New audio guides and interactive tours available on the app will allow visitors to explore the cathedral at their own pace. There will be a choice of free and paid tours, as well as a special ‘explorers tour’ for families.
The Dean of Portsmouth, Reverend Dr Anthony Cane, said: ‘We have really missed being able to welcome visitors to our cathedral over the past months. We have been pleased to offer the opportunity to visit for prayer and some services, and as restrictions ease we look forward to opening up more of our building for visitors and pilgrims.
‘New digital experiences, including our app which offers audio guided tours, as well as virtual reality and interactive screens will add a wonderful new element when visiting the cathedral.’
Portsmouth Cathedral has also been working hard to improve other aspects of the visitor experience, such as its shop – which now features a brand-new collection of unique products exclusive to the cathedral.
Richard Abraham, chief operating officer, said: ‘For several years the cathedral’s shop has provided an assorted range of gifts, books, bibles, and homeware. Thanks to the government’s Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage, we were able to work with industry-leading retail consultants to identify new product ranges as well as the opportunity to delve into the archives and create some truly unique products in our new collection.
‘We found that despite being home to a wealth of creative talent, there are few places in the city you can find a curated selection of local products and gifts.’