Lancaster Priory celebrates a global summer

Thousands of people watched the world go by at Lancaster Priory this summer.

By Louise Bryning
Friday, 22nd July 2022, 12:31 pm

Over 24 days, the city’s oldest church hosted Gaia, Luke Jerram’s spectacular artwork featuring the detailed NASA imagery of the earth’s surface.

Visitors came from far and wide to watch the giant globe rotating from the Priory rafters and enjoy the wide variety of events organised as part of the church’s Festival of the Earth.

Among them were 1,000 children from 17 schools from across the district who created artwork inspired by their visit.

Jumping for joy, Sieberen Granger in front of Gaia at Lancaster Priory. Photo by Darren Andrews.

Eighty musicians performed at 17 concerts during the festival which also featured three artists, six actors and even a quiz master.

Each week during Gaia’s visit, the festival took a different theme from community to nature and sustainability to home and included four public lectures and talks.

More than 160 people took part in yoga and tai chi sessions and one couple even got married under the unique setting of Gaia.

A team of sixty volunteers and nine Gaia chaplains welcomed visitors, 500 of who left sticky note prayers for the world as well as 50 letters to the earth.

Joop Brouwer leads a tai chi class with Gaia as a backdrop at Lancaster Priory. Picture by Darren Andrews.

Many of the visitors enjoyed the Priory’s hospitality with almost 480 hot drinks and more than 200 pieces of homemade cake served.

The Vicar of Lancaster, the Rev Leah Vasey-Saunders said: “There have been so many highlights to hosting Gaia within the Festival of the Earth at Lancaster Priory but for me the greatest highlight has been the people.

Volunteers and visitors alongside the Priory team have experienced an incredible festival and we have been inspired by Luke Jerram’s Gaia to not just dream of a better future for our planet and its peoples but to act to make that future possible.”

Gaia’s visit to Lancaster was funded by Lancaster Priory in partnership with Bandwagon Events, a company involving current and past members of Lancaster Music Festival.

The events programme was supported by Lancaster BID, Oglethorpe, Sturton and Gillibrand, Mazuma, ICT Reverse and the Duchy of Lancaster Benevolent Fund.

Said Rev Vasey-Saunders: “Whilst we might not be working and worshipping with the unavoidable reminder that Gaia has given us every day any more, we have the gift of many new friends and partners to work with to build on this experience for years to come.”