Kent

Rochester Cathedral's crazy golf course sparks row

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Media captionRochester Cathedral's crazy golf course divides opinion

People visiting a medieval cathedral this summer will see the central aisle converted into a crazy golf course.

The nave of Rochester Cathedral is home to a nine-hole course each including a model of a different type of bridge.

The cathedral says it hopes visitors will learn about faith, and building "both emotional and physical bridges".

Opponents say it is a "really serious mistake" and "tricks" those into a search for God.

Image caption Fairway to heaven? - The free course is open until September

The course, developed and paid for by Rochester Bridge Trust, includes models of the original Roman bridge at Rochester and the Queen Elizabeth II bridge at Dartford.

Andrew Freeman, from the trust, said: "The idea behind the course is to try and encourage young people and families to come into such a beautiful place to learn about the structures of different bridges."

Rev Rachel Phillips, Canon for mission and growth at Rochester Cathedral, said: "We hope that, while playing adventure golf, visitors will reflect on the bridges that need to be built in their own lives and in our world today."

A visitor to the cathedral said: "It's really nice for children to come here, be able to see the history of the cathedral and have fun."

One boy who played on the course said: "I think it's quite a good place to non-religious people come in to experience what it's all about."

Image caption The nine-hole course includes models of different types of bridge

The Right Reverend Dr Gavin Ashenden, Bishop of the Anglican Episcopal Church, said: "I'm afraid I think it's a really serious mistake, perhaps born of desperation.

"The idea that people are so trivial that they can be almost tricked into a search for God by entertaining them with a golf course is a serious-category error."

Canon Matthew Rushton, from Rochester Cathedral, said: "Cathedrals are very confident at the moment to innovate and have events like this and to tell people about our faith in Jesus which is what we're all about.

"The Archbishop of Canterbury said to us that if you don't know how to have fun in cathedrals then you're not doing your job properly."

The course is open from 1 August until 1 September.

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