Bristol Cathedral: A Family-Friendly Visit?

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Bristol Cathedral might not sound the most enjoyable place to take children. I had not even planned to take my own children to visit the Cathedral on the day we did; we had simply been strolling around Bristol City Centre that day and made a spontaneous visit.

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And while it might not sound like the most enjoyable or interesting place to take kids, actually, I think that it can be, firstly because it is probably different from any other place that they have even been to. My own children have visited many places in their short lives but, until that day had never visited anywhere quite like a Cathedral.

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Not only that, but the cathedral offers one of the very things that kids love: space. Not just a little space either, but masses of space to wander around and explore. Oh, and it echoes as my children discovered to their delight, hmmmm.

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There had never been anywhere they had visited before that day with ceilings quite that high nor as spectacular.

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Additionally, there was an exhibition at that time in the Cathedral, which my son found especially intriguing.

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While my kids excitedly roamed the cathedral, exploring and discovering, revelling in the vast expanse of space that the Cathedral boasts, I was aware that some people were there for religious reasons so I had to try and temper their delight somewhat.

While we were at the Cathedral, we made the discovery that there was a cafe within it called Cafe 1542. This was where certain aspects of the cathedral proved not to be very family friendly. There are steps down to the Cafe and no other way of accessing it (that I could see, anyway). I was lucky enough while standing at the top of the steps with my daughter’s push chair obviously looking slightly helpless, that another visitor guessed my predicament and kindly offered to help.

Cafe 1542 is a nice cafe: light, pleasant and with very helpful staff. The majority of people there were older, reading the paper or enjoying a quiet cup of tea, save for one man obviously on his lunch break, working on his laptop. it is a quiet, peaceful cafe.

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However, lunch with my children is never a quiet, peaceful affair and while no-one seemed disturbed by my children’s squabbling, we certainly didn’t blend in to the scenery and I was very aware of the noise my children were making.

There was no card machine when I ordered lunch which could have been tricky had I not scraped enough pennies from the bottom of my purse to pay for it. Nevertheless, lunch was very good, I bought three paninis and drinks to share which came to a very reasonable £8.40.

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Following lunch, we decided to explore the Cathedral’s Courtyard Garden. My kids loved the garden; it is enclosed and interesting, with lots of nooks and crannies. But again, this is where facets of the cathedral don’t fit entirely with young children. It was hard work trying to keep them from clambering onto graves and from picking plants and flowers.

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The cathedral is a great place for kids to explore and enjoy, despite certain aspects of it not being so family friendly, i.e. the stairs. This is not a criticism of the Cathedral in any way, just one mum’s personal experience of two wild young children and one cumbersome push chair.

I think that the Cathedral’s cafe would be most suitable for older children as stairs would not be a problem and older children might find it easier to be a little more quiet than mine.

However, I do recommend you visit the Cathedral with children, both young and older, it is free and offers a great learning experience for children, as well as something different from the norm. It just goes to prove that you don’t have to spend money in order for kids to enjoy themselves!

If you would like more information about Bristol Cathedral, please visit its website.

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