A CHURCH in Norfolk has become the first in the UK to host a live “escape game” by which players are metaphorically locked in a room with puzzles and clues to help solve a history-based mystery, and win their freedom.
St Andrew’s, Blickling, in Norfolk, opened the attraction last Friday with the Norwich-based game-makers, History Mystery. The company creates live escape games for two to ten players, based on historic events, which are played in the locations in which those histories took place. Its first escape game opened 18 months ago in the medieval Guildhall in Norwich.
The story behind the St Andrew’s game is based on the relationship between King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, who worshipped at the church as a child, the managing director of History Mystery, Alasdair Willett, explained. “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.
“The objective is to see the noble couple to the altar, solving puzzles and challenges to get them there before time runs out. We have designed the game to run throughout the whole church [building], but in a way that the church remains fully open to visitors too — which is something that has never been done before.”
St Andrew’s is one of 15 churches in the Aylsham and District team ministry. The team have been searching for new and creative ways to expand its mission and attract visitors, the Team Rector, Canon Andrew Beane, said. This includes rural broadband, community festivals, tech cafés, music, social media, and children’s activities. He was excited to be working with History Mystery on the latest project.
The Bishop of Lynn, the Rt Revd Jonathan Meyrick, said that the project was one of the most exciting and imaginative community and mission projects he had seen in the diocese of Norwich. “It is a wonderful way of opening up the church even more, and reminding us all that churches are places 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.”
Escape games at St Andrew’s last one hour and will initially run at weekends from 10 a.m. to 7.30 p.m., except when the church is in use for services and other events. Advance booking is recommended.