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Petersfield Museum: Beliefs – Religion and Spirituality in Petersfield and Beyond

Religion has an important function in many people’s lives even in today’s secular times. According to the 2011 census a quarter of the population of England and Wales reported they have no religion. On the other hand nearly 60% of the population still considers themselves to be Christians, while other religions have even increased their numbers and belief systems and ritual practices outside the established religions such as Neo-Paganism or the New Age have also gained popularity. Religion and spirituality therefore mirror the diversity and complexity of contemporary society.

This new exhibition focuses on how religions are practiced and experienced today. How do people become religious? What does faith give to the followers and what is it that sceptics, agnostics and atheists do not like about religions? Do believers ever have doubts, and what answers do they have for the sceptics? These are some of the questions Petersfield Museum asked local citizens of different and no religious belief.

The result is a series of thought-provoking personal portraits and related artefacts. Information panels, objects and photographs from the Museum’s collections provide the local and global religious context. Visitors are invited to voice their thoughts about their own beliefs in the exhibition space and participate in an oral history project about religion.

Events related to the exhibition

20 September, 1-2.30pm, Buddhist monks visit Petersfield Museum

Buddhist monks from Cittaviveka, the monastery near Chithurst, are will visit Petersfield Museum. They are happy to answer questions about their daily routine, their beliefs and their lifestyle. Booking is not required.

Thursday 21st November, 9.30am to 1pm

Religious festivals, an interfaith workshop for primary schools, Petersfield Festival Hall

Representatives of several religions will bring stories, pictures and artefacts along to teach school children about the principal festivals in their religion and answer the children’s questions. Booking is essential.

Contact Amanda Harwood, Education and Outreach Officer, 01730 260756 or

28 November, 7pm, Dr Paul Hedges on ‘Faith, spirituality and belonging’

Dr Hedges is Senior Lecturer in Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Winchester. He will explore what it means to ‘have faith’ or ‘believe’ in something, in the context of the UK’s changing religious landscape. Tickets (£7, £5 for museum members) are available from the Flora Twort Gallery, Church Path Studio, 21 The Square, 01730 260756.

Download an information sheet

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