Holdens launches world’s first permanent church VR attraction at Cartmel Priory

Holdens launches world’s first permanent church VR attraction at Cartmel Priory

Holdens launches world’s first permanent church VR attraction at Cartmel Priory

After months of design and development, we were proud to launch our VR attraction at Cartmel Priory, an 800-year-old church and visitor attraction in the Lake District, on 3rd April.

On its first day the attraction sold out with more than 250 people visiting the Priory to experience ‘The Young Martyr’, an immersive VR attraction developed by our in-house studio.

The experience transports viewers back to 1537 during the time of the reformation, focusing on a band of Cartmel’s villagers and monks who bravely battled to save the Priory from King Henry VIII’s invading army.

After being tasked with finding a way to attract new visitors to the Priory and bring the church’s incredible 800-year history to life, we decided VR was the perfect medium to do this in an engaging and educational way.

We created a script that was exciting and true to life and produced a VR storyboard with hand-drawn illustrations that were then transformed into 3D assets and animated scenes. These were on display during the launch event.

On bringing VR to Cartmel Priory, Vicar Nick Devenish said: “I believe any medium that allows us to engage with new audiences and make churches feel more accessible is worth exploring.

“Virtual reality allows us to tell the story of those brave monks in an incredibly engaging and exciting way. To feel like you are there with them, in the moment, adds a degree of understanding that other mediums cannot convey.

“It truly makes the monks’ brave actions seem all the more remarkable and we welcome all to come and experience it.”

On working with Cartmel Priory, our VR and AR Project Lead, George Bennett, added: “It’s no secret that churches have seen attendances dropping in recent years. As a result, many have been forced to close or merge.

“Working with Nick and the team was a breath of fresh air. His vision for the Priory as a place that can offer something for all, regardless of faith, is a model that will help to secure its future.

“Whether it’s through the VR experience, tours of the building, theatre shows or musical performances – becoming a place of experiences will allow the Priory to continue as a place of worship.”

All funds raised from the VR attraction will go towards essential maintenance and repair of the Priory, with the hope of keeping it open for another 800 years.

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