A Wilmslow design consultancy has completed its latest project to reimagine the welcome centre and improve the visitor experience at St Alban’s Cathedral.
Wilmslow design consultancy Mather & Co, which specialises in museum, leisure, retail and entertainment experiences, was tasked with raising the profile of St Albans Cathedral – both nationally and internationally – by communicating the history behind the cathedral and engaging new audiences.
Despite its significance in British history, the story of St Alban – Britain’s first saint – is not widely known, this led the cathedral to secure funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and over 1,000 donors.
The funding has been used to make significant structural and programming improvements, including a new welcome centre, an education centre for children, an adult study centre and an exhibition area, with the aim of boosting visitor numbers and establishing it as must-see attraction.
Mather & Co completed interpretative design throughout the cathedral, ensuring that it was sympathetic and consistent with the overall fabric of the building. It installed a fit-out in the new welcome centre, including a graphic timeline and a digital information system, and a new interpretive area and trail that introduce the history of the building, offering visitor information points.
Sarah Clarke, managing director at Mather & Co, said:
“We were thrilled to have been involved in this project, as it’s an incredibly culturally and historically significant cathedral. Working with Grade I listed buildings can be challenging, but as we have previously worked on other listed buildings and cathedrals, we were able to bring our expertise and experience in that area.
“We have refreshed the visitor journey by installing interpretive areas and stopping points that educate and engage visitors, and introduced a new exhibition that showcases the rich history of St Albans Cathedral in a compelling way. It also offers improved disability access throughout the building, making it more accessible to a wider range of people.”
Mather & Co has also introduced a treasury exhibition, featuring a chronological journey through the history of the cathedral in a striking oak exhibition space. Display cases showcasing liturgical costumes and other religious artefacts, and two interactive touchscreens, are also featured in the exhibition.
Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans, said:
“With the grant, and with the match funding that was so generously given by trusts and over a thousand individuals, we were able to create a beautiful new welcome centre, a new centre for school children, a new exhibition centre and a new adult study centre and library. We have been able to present the cathedral’s treasures in a much more attractive way and have paved the way to make St Albans a first-choice destination for tourists and pilgrims alike.”