High-tech guide to York city centre churches

Posted on 16 November 2012

An innovative smartphone app allowing people to explore York city centre churches in new and exciting ways is going live in time for the St Nicholas Fayre.

Opening screen of the York church app. Credit: University of York's Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture

Created by the University of York’s Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture, the new mobile phone app is designed to encourage visitors of all ages to explore the rich life and history of York’s places of worship.

The ecumenical project will link all the churches inside the city walls – and those just outside – within a map-based app. 

The driving force behind the project is the Revd Jane Nattrass, Priest-in-Charge of the York City Centre Churches, who said: “We are pleased that so many churches have come together to make use of the app technology which can be used in church, on the move or in schools.  York churches have many treasures which add to the life of the city. The apps will provide opportunities to explore the stories from history and contemporary Christianity.  Asking people to switch on their smart phones in church will be a first!”

There will be a special preview of the new app on Tuesday, 20 November, when Louise Hampson from the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture, will demonstrate the new app at All Saints Pavement to representatives from the churches involved and project funders.

Louise Hampson said: “Churches hold much of the nation’s history and spiritual and artistic heritage, so it is vital we find new ways to help people of all ages and backgrounds explore and enjoy these wonderful buildings and their stories.

“Each of the twenty-three churches in York is being provided with a 'landing page' - a snappy summary of what and who they are. In addition, GPS technology will enable the user to find some of York’s less well-known treasures by telling them when they are near to a building which may be slightly off the main streets. They can also mark on their map the sites they have visited.”

Over the next eighteen months, clicking on any of the nine churches involved in the first phase of the project will open a plug-in in the app which will tell that church's individual story in more depth and showcase the church's current life and work. For each church there will be a panoramic view of the interior with key features highlighted and explained.

We are adding pages for 'lost' churches, such as St Maurice's and Christchurch King's Square, which have disappeared but which have left tantalising traces in street names, gravestones or old photographs

Louise Hampson

The first three plug-ins, for All Saints Pavement, St. Olave's and the United Reformed Church, are already complete and will be available in time for the popular St Nicholas Fayre on 29 November. Over the next few months, more plug-ins will be added.  Once downloaded, the app will automatically update as new content becomes available.

Louise Hampson said: “We also have plans to add pages for churches no longer in use as places of worship, many of which have fascinating stories to tell. In addition, we are adding pages for 'lost' churches, such as St Maurice's and Christchurch King's Square, which have disappeared but which have left tantalising traces in street names, gravestones or old photographs.”

The project has received funding from a local trust and practical support from York's City Centre Churches Care and Development Trust (CoRE).

The York City Centre Churches app will be available to download for both Apple iOS devices (iPhone and iPad) and Android devices from 27 November. Search for 'York Churches' in Google play and the Apple Appstore.

Notes to editors:

Contact details

Caron Lett
Press Officer

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322029

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