World first for Norfolk church
The world's first escape game in a working church opens on Saturday August 12 at St Andrew’s Church in Blickling, near Aylsham, reports Network Norwich and Norfolk.
This unique joint venture from Norwich based History Mystery and the Diocese of Norwich is a highly innovative use of an active church.
It will significantly boost funds for repair and upkeep, whilst providing an opportunity for people to enjoy what is the UK’s fastest growing form of live entertainment, and players have the full run of the church, including parts you don’t normally see.
Everyone loves to solve puzzles, and this new game – The Queenmaker – is based on the story of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, played in the parish church where Anne would have worshipped as a girl.
Alasdair Willett, Managing Director of History Mystery said: “Anne’s fate is a well told story, but Blickling church is a unique place to bring to life a part of her story that’s not so often a focus – Anne and Henry’s love. Your objective is to see the noble couple to the altar, solving puzzles and challenges to get them there before time runs out!
“We’ve designed the game to run throughout the whole church, but in a way that the church remains fully open to visitors too, which is something that has never been done before.”
History Mystery creates unique history-based live escape games for 2 to 10 players, based on real stories of people and places, played in the historic locations where those stories actually happened. Their first escape games opened in Norwich’s medieval Guildhall a year and a half ago and have proved to be a massive hit with first-time players and seasoned gamers alike.
Mr Willett added: “We knew that escape games were really fun, but feedback from players in Norwich shows they absolutely love the additional element of real-life narrative. The Blickling location gives us the chance to tell one of the most famous stories from English history, and one that ultimately led to the formation of the Church of England.”
Revd Canon Andrew Beane, Team Rector of the Aylsham & District Team of Churches said: “We are really excited about working with History Mystery at beautiful Blickling Parish Church. The church stands at the gateway to the stunning Blickling Estate and provides a wonderful opportunity to welcome people to the church, and discover more about its story, history and wonderful royal connections.
“The church is open every day and visitors are always welcome. Recreation is 're-creation’ restoring what God has made and loves. Across our Team of 15 Churches, Aylsham & District Team Ministry is always looking for new ways to help people discover God in creative ways. From rural broadband, to community festivals, children's activities to tech cafes, from music to social media we are celebrating God’s love in our beautiful and vibrant rural churches.
“Welcoming History Mystery to the church is just another way of doing this and the wonderful thing about them is that they have worked so hard to tell the story and history of the parish church, the Church of England and our nation so as well as having fun we are also learning!”
The Bishop of Lynn, the Rt Revd Jonathan Meyrick said: “Across the Diocese there are many imaginative ideas for using church buildings in the life of local communities. This is one of the most exciting and creative I have come across. I think it is a wonderful way of opening up the church even more, and reminding us all that church is a place of fun and laughter as well as prayer and worship. I am thrilled it is happening here and I look forward to having a go!”
Games last an hour and will initially be run from 10am to 7.30pm at weekends, whenever the church is not in use for services and other events, with advance booking recommended.
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