2019 Adventure #2: Cathedrals of England

Location:  Sidbury, near Exeter, with day-trips to other cities. 

Adventure Dates:  July 12 - August 2, 2019.

Group Leaders:  Prof. John Black, Liberal Studies and Philosophy; Constance Kovalenka.  

The Cathedrals of England Adventure provides a stimulating yet relaxed exploration of the styles of architecture which have formed the tradition of church-building in the British Isles, and of the styles of music which has been written specifically for church performance.

This is not a religious studies program, as it is concerned only with the secular subjects of art history and music history. We will visit several cathedrals, listen to live and recorded music, and learn about the historical transitions through which music and architecture have passed in the last thousand years. Of central interest will be the myriad connections between these two art-forms.

Under expert guidance, a group of 6-10 participants will encounter the architecture and music of cathedrals through tours, concerts, lectures and seminar discussions, with ample free time for independent activity. Participants are encouraged to share their background knowledge and developing understanding with others, so that all benefit in their learning.

Architecture is Music written in Stone … Music is Architecture written in Sound

Group Leaders

John Black coordinated the Liberal Studies Abroad credit program from its inception in 1996 until 2016. He has Master's degrees from Cambridge and Simon Fraser, and a PhD from UBC, all in Philosophy. A devotee of Gothic architecture and mediaeval and Renaissance music, he has travelled extensively in Europe, and has led many study groups to England, Italy and the Czech Republic. He values the southwest of England in particular because of its many significant churches and the beauty of its countryside.

Connie Kovalenka is a graduate of the Liberal Studies program at VIU. A visual artist in her own right, she has a special interest in Gothic statuary, and is knowledgeable about a wide range of artforms as well as the city of Exeter, its markets, its cats, and its antiques and junk shops.


The Adventure will begin with optional preparatory sessions in Nanaimo before departure. These will provide background on the themes and an opportunity to get to know your colleagues. The schedule below will be updated in light of contingencies. It will however give you a general idea of what to expect. Additional seminar discussions and other activities will be added as required.

Day 1     Arrive Sidbury; Settle into Accommodation, Welcome Dinner
Day 2     Orientation, Walk and Lunch
Day 3     Free Day
Day 4     Saxon Church and Gloucester Cathedral
Day 5     A La Ronde - House and Garden
Day 6     Wells Cathedral; Glastonbury Abbey 
Day 7     Knightshayes Court - House and Garden
Day 8     Chichester Cathedral and Concert
Day 9     Free Day
Day 10   Free Day
Day 11   Lyme Regis
Day 12   Winchester Cathedral
Day 13   Coleton Fishacre - House and Garden 
Day 14   Exeter Cathedral, including Organ Recital
Day 15   Worcester Cathedral and Tewkesbury Abbey Concert
Day 16   Free Day
Day 17   Free Day
Day 18   Salisbury Cathedral and Stonehenge
Day 19   Buckfast Abbey and Garden
Day 20   Free Day
Day 21   Leave Sidbury, Arundel Cathedral, Drive to Hotel at Gatwick, Final Dinner
Day 22   Leave England


Our self-catering accommodation in the small village of Sidbury consists of a large Georgian house (and if both necessary and possible an additional cottage close by) with separate bedrooms, many bathrooms, and a spacious open-plan kitchen, dining and living area - a flexible mix of social and private space.

Program Fees

Package costs include program overheads, accommodation, all program-related travel within England, books and educational materials, and admissions to all cultural sites and events. Participants must arrange their own air travel to England and have adequate travel insurance, including medical. Food is not included, but accommodation is in student residences with shared kitchens, so that food costs can be kept to a minimum.

Program Fee:     $4,995 (plus application fee)

Payment Schedule

In order to allow us to make a firm decision to proceed with the Adventure, which depends upon enrolment, and to make bookings for accommodations etc., it is essential that we are able to cover our overheads well in advance of leaving Canada. The following payment schedule is therefore necessary:

  1. On submission of Application for Admission: application fee
  2. Within two weeks of notification of acceptance: commitment fee of $500
  3. Due December 15, 2018: booking deposit of $2,000 (deadline negotiable for new applicants)
  4. Due March 11, 2019: payment of remaining balance ($2495)

    Provided you are accepted into Adventures in Mind, all payments are non-refundable, except in case of cancellation of the Adventure by Vancouver Island University.


ALL participants under the age of 70 are required to purchase travel medical insurance in Vancouver Island University's mandatory comprehensive group plan: for details please go to Education Abroad Insurance. Because it is a group plan the rates are reasonable, and the coverage is excellent.

Those 70 or over may choose whether or not to participate in this particular plan, but must in any case have comparable coverage for the duration of the Adventure; before departure they must provide program personnel with details of their insurance policies and sign an exemption form.

Program staff will assist you in making the necessary applications for insurance, or for the exemption where applicable. Please do not buy insurance until the Adventure has been finally confirmed by VIU. 

You are strongly advised to obtain coverage for trip interruption and cancellation as well as travel medical insurance.

For medical, safety and other advice on travelling overseas, please visit Government of Canada Travel and Tourism.

Air Travel

Participants must arrange their own air travel, but should not do so until they receive final official confirmation (probably in January 2019) that enough payments have been received for the Adventure to proceed. We highly recommend flying to and from Gatwick airport, which will enable us to organise transport to and from Sidbury. Before departure you will be given instructions on what to do on arrival in England.

Important Notice

A level of physical and medical fitness is required to get the most out of the Adventure. Some of the sites visited are accessible only on foot (some may not be wheelchair-accessible), and some visits may require lengthy periods of walking and standing. On arrival and departure you will have to carry your own luggage. If you have any limitations or concerns in this area, please consult Adventures in Mind personnel before applying.

Admission Process

To discuss your interest in the 2019 Adventure, or to request application materials, please contact the Program Coordinator, Regan McKeever by phone at: 1.888.920.2221 Ext: 6536 or by email to Regan.McKeever@viu.ca

Print and complete the Application for Admission form 

Submit your completed Application for Admission form along with an application fee by mail or in person to:

Adventures in Mind
Vancouver Island University
100 Jensen Ave East
Parksville, BC V9P 2G3

Adventures in Mind is a VIU program and a student record will be created for you, if you don’t already have one. All applicants must pay the application fee at the time of submission.

You will be notified by mail when you are accepted into the Adventures in Mind program.
A $500 commitment fee will be payable within 2 weeks of your acceptance. Full details on next steps, including how to pay the commitment fee, will be included in your Letter of Acceptance.