Walking through history in the Cathedral Precincts

Friday 29 July

Outdoor tours of Peterborough Cathedral’s historic grounds begin this August.

August sees the return of Peterborough Cathedral’s popular outdoor Precincts Tour, with visitors able to explore the grounds of the Cathedral in the company of a knowledgeable guide, finding clues to the rich and eventful history of this ancient site. 

Starting with the early beginnings of the Benedictine Abbey, visitors will learn about the day-to-day domestic life of Peterborough’s monks, discovering fascinating details such as the Lavatorium, an elaborate fountain where monks would have washed before dinner, and the well in which, according to local folklore, the heart of Wulfhad son of King Wulfere of Mercia is buried.

They will hear how some of the monks spent their days creating illuminated manuscripts in the Abbey’s scriptorium, meticulously copying out Peterborough’s version of The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, now held in the Bodleian Library, and see the remains of the Infirmary where elderly monks were cared for. 

The tour will also look at the exterior of Laurel Court in the Cloisters, used as a Girl’s School between 1870 and 1928 and run by the formidable Miss Margaret Gibson who was known for wearing long capes and eating bread and Bovril for supper every day. Her most famous pupil was Edith Cavell, the celebrated nurse who was executed during the First World War.

As well as appreciating the stunning architecture, visitors will also experience the beautiful green space around the Cathedral, including a tucked away garden that is planted to represent the monastic herb garden that would have been used by Peterborough’s monks for cooking, brewing, stewing, dyeing and medicine, truly bringing history to life. 

Tickets and timing

The remains of the Infirmary at Peterborough Cathedral

The tour lasts around 90 minutes and will go ahead whatever the weather, so guests are invited to wear walking shoes and dress according to the weather forecast.

The tour takes place at 11.00am on selected Thursdays and Saturdays during August, as well as on August Bank Holiday Monday.

Tickets are £8 per person (+ booking fee) and available via the Cathedral website here: Precincts Tour Tickets. Numbers are limited for each tour, so pre-booking is advised. Any remaining tickets will be on sale at the Cathedral Welcome Desk on the day.

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