Norwich Cathedral set to host giant dinosaur
Norwich Cathedral is set to play host to surely the most unusual, and largest, visitor in its 900-year history - a 22-metre-long dinosaur called Dippy the Diplodocus. Keith Morris reports.
Dippy will be hosted in the main nave of Norwich's Anglican Cathedral from July to October 2020 at the end of a two-and-a-half-year nationwide tour by the country’s largest and most well-known dinosaur from the Natural History Museum in London.
The dinosaur model, made from plaster-of-Paris, has been exhibited in London since 1905 and the tour aims to help inspire a generation of scientists and allow families to explore nature on their doorstep, according to organisers.
The news that Norwich Cathedral will be the host for the East Anglia part of the tour was revealed on Monday by the Dean of Norwich Cathedral, the Very Rev Jane Hedges and Dr Paul Smith who runs the Teacher Scientist Network.
Dean Jane said: “Historically, naves in churches and cathedrals have been used for a wide variety of activities. Today, cathedrals across the country host a variety of events from traditional concerts and dinners to fashion shows and Christmas markets.
“The presence of Dippy in Norwich will naturally bring people from all backgrounds and beliefs and will stimulate questions and debate about creations and the origins of life as well as some of the major issues facing humanity today. It will prompt people to think about aspects such as climate change and food production.
“In addition, we hope Dippy will be a source of enjoyment and a fun experience to attract people of all ages to come to the Cathedral.”
When asked if the exhibition might be thought contrary to Biblical teaching that the world is made in seven days, Dean Jane said: “The idea of treating the Book of Genesis as a literal account of creation is a relatively modern idea in terms of Christian thought and is still very much a minority point of view. The Church welcomes a positive engagement with science and celebrates the insights it gives into the mysteries and wonders of creation.”
The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, said: “This is good news for the Cathedral and the people of Norwich and the wider region. It complements the work the Cathedral has done in hosting a range of events and using its inspirational space creatively. In particular, it links with the aims of the successful Science Festival held earlier this year. This will be a big event. Cathedrals are great places for doing big things, for at their heart is the worship of a very big God of love.”
Dr Paul Smith said: “This is a tremendous opportunity for discussions around science and faith.”
During the visit of Dippy, the main Sunday morning service at the Cathedral will be held in the Presbytery, which is where it traditionally used to be held. The building is designed to enable worship to continue in other parts of the building so there will be no disruption to the usual pattern of worship.
The Cathedral’s education department will be working in partnership with major institutions in the city and county to develop a range of activities for school children from all over Norfolk and the wider eastern region, as part of its aim to get every school child in Norfolk to visit the Cathedral at some stage.
The exhibition will be free to visit and the costs are being met externally and not by the Cathedral itself.
Norwich is the only place of worship that the dinosaur will visit, the other venues being museums, art galleries and the National Assembly for Wales.
Pictured top, Dean Jane Hedges and Dr Paul Smith making the announcement of Dippy’s visit to Norwich Cathedral, and above, the dinosaur in situ at the Natural History Museum.