#ChurchExplorer : Daisy & Sarah

Dog Friendly Pilgrimage

by Sarah Morris, currently making a pilgrimage to every dog friendly cathedral in the UK

Last year I obtained my Pilgrim Passport.

It was during a visit to St Albans Cathedral and I have been visiting ‘dog-friendly’ cathedrals around England. At each cathedral I visit I present the passport at the welcome desk and the passport is stamped with a design unique to each cathedral. Most cathedrals now are dog friendly, but there are still about nine which still do not allow well behaved dogs to visit.

I have been taking photographs of my dog Daisy in cathedrals to promote my pilgrimage on Instagram with the hashtag #CathedralDog.


Last year I wrote to the new Dean Andrew at Gloucester Cathedral, one of the few that did not allow dogs to visit. I asked if he would consider changing their policy. I was so pleased that in early March this year Gloucester Cathedral changed their policy and joined the majority of dog friendly cathedrals.   

The cloisters at Gloucester cathedral will be familiar as the film location for a corridor at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films. I also love the unexpected points of interest I find when visiting cathedrals. For example, I now know that the composer John Stafford Smith was born in Gloucester, son of the organist at the cathedral. John Stafford Smith was the composer of ‘Star Spangled Banner’ the tune of the National Anthem of the USA.   

On my road trip, it was only a short distance to visit another dog friendly cathedral at Worcester, once again with my Labrador Daisy. As a keen choral singer and a lover of classical music I was particularly keen to visit Worcester, the birthplace of Sir Edward Elgar. Ivor Atkins was the organist at Worcester Cathedral and with Elgar he prepared the standard edition of St Matthew Passion which is still in use today. Elgar dedicated one of his Pomp and Circumstance marches to Ivor Atkins. There is a superb memorial window to Edward Elgar inside Worcester Cathedral.

The final destination on my road trip was a long-awaited pilgrimage to Coventry Cathedral. As a child of the 1960’s the Second World War was fresh in our minds, with stories of German air raids and the Blitz in London. The old Coventry Cathedral built in the 13th and 14th centuries was destroyed during an air raid in 1940. With this in mind and walking through these ruins I was stopped in my tracks by two words on the walls of the ruin. FATHER FORGIVE.  

The new Coventry Cathedral was built adjoining and connected to the old ruins designed by the architect Sir Basil Spence. This new cathedral is a testament to peace, forgiveness and reconciliation.

I also had a more personal reason to want to visit Coventry Cathedral. We had family links to the artist John Hutton who created the magnificent glass screen on the West of the cathedral. My late Father worked in the New Zealand High Commission in London and knew John Hutton. He lived in England but was born in New Zealand. Hutton engraved the glass entrance to the New Zealand High Commission in London’s Haymarket and very generously presented my Father with some of the sketches for some of his ‘Angels’. John Hutton engraved the West Screen at Coventry Cathedral, taking ten years to create the 66 ‘Saints and Angels’ depicted on these glass engravings.   

The staff on the desk made us feel so welcome at the cathedral. Daisy enjoys meeting everyone and had quite a fuss made of her there. Staff allowed us to visit the choir stalls to take a photograph of Daisy to mark our visit. I always thank the staff in cathedrals for welcoming well behaved dogs on a lead, and for the free dog biscuits. Much appreciated.

Find dog friendly churches to visit

An increasing number of Britain’s churches are welcoming pets with almost two thirds considering themselves to be 'pet friendly'. If you're looking for churches to explore with your dog, we have a special tag to filter out those that will welcome your furry friend. If you are passionate about visiting a specific church do get in touch to check.

Search our map for beautiful churches to visit and wonderful stories to discover with your dog

A few of the Cathedrals Daisy & Sarah have explored together


St Albans Cathedral

The oldest site of continuous Christian worship in Britain and stands over the place where Alban, Britains first saint, was buried after giving his life for his faith over 1700 years ago.


Gloucester Cathedral

Gloucester Cathedral has been a place of Christian worship continuously for over 1,300 years: our vision is to seek to be 'in tune with heaven and in touch with daily life'.


Worcester Cathedral

Worcester Cathedral has been described as possibly the most interesting of all England’s cathedrals, especially architecturally.


Coventry Cathedral

Combining the evocative ruins of the bombed Cathedral Church of St Michael with the magnificent ‘casket of jewels’ designed by Sir Basil Spence, and voted the nation’s favourite 20th century building, Coventry Cathedral is a truly inspirational place to visit.