On Saturday 8 August, we opened the gardens of Hereford Cathedral to members of the public for our Open Gardens Event.

Two visitors sitting on a bench in the sunshine. The photograph is taken from behind and they are surrounded by plants and foliage which frames the shot

Normally, during the summer months, we would welcome hundreds of visitors to take part in garden tours led by our team of garden guides. Due to the current restrictions in place, we have not been able to launch our guided tours this summer, but we didn't want to miss the opportunity to share the hard work of our volunteer gardeners with the public. Visitors were free to explore and relax within the gardens with gardeners and guides on hand to answer any questions.

A volunteer chats with a guest from a distance. They are looking up towards the cathedral tower and college hall under the shade of a tree

After experiencing devastating floods at the start of the year, our volunteers were unfortunately not able to tend to the gardens during lockdown. Despite a challenging year, our team of volunteers have lovingly restored the gardens to their normal high standards. Visitors were able to view the gardens in glorious sunshine whilst observing social distancing guidelines throughout the visit.

Visitors stand in the cloisters garden in bright sunshine. One is admiring shrubbery in the beds whilst another talks to a guide

Jess Stallwood, Events Officer, said: "Now the cathedral, and some of its venues, are opening back up to the public, we have been exploring ways in which we can engage with our audiences and welcome them back whilst following guidance to ensure safety.

Our first event, Open Gardens, was held in the beautiful sunshine of Saturday 8 August. This event gave us a vital opportunity to explore ways to host an enjoyable event whilst making sure visitors would feel most comfortable. A structured, pre-booked, outdoor event, which encouraged people to roam freely around the gardens and maintain a socially comfortable distance, worked very well. For some visitors this was the first time they had visited any location since lockdown began and they were reassured by the additional safety steps we had taken

As the season for outdoor events is soon coming to a close, we will be exploring ways in which we can host events indoors, and share use of our cathedral venues to community groups, whilst adhering to government and C of E guidance. This may include limited capacity events on site combined with a virtual option for those wanting to remain at home."

We would like to say a huge thank you to all of the gardeners and guides who helped to make this event a success and thanks to Gordon Taylor for his photographs.

If you would like to discuss any event ideas at the cathedral please contact Jess Stallwood [email protected]