Features

The price of a cathedral – and how deans pay it

Entrance fees? Fashion shows? Corporate dinners? These days, nothing is ruled out

26 March 2016

9:00 AM

26 March 2016

9:00 AM

We’ve all done it: been overcome by a sudden sense of hard-upness at the moment when the collection plate comes round at the end of a cathedral service. We fumble in our pockets, feel a £1 coin and a £10 note, and decide that the £1 coin will do. This is a cathedral, for goodness sake, not a parish church: they must be rich, with all those gold-coloured vestments and choristers in ruffs.

But if we want our cathedrals to be alive and singing psalms in 20 years’ time, this misconception about cathedrals must change. Indeed, the sub-dean of Coventry is openly clamping down. At the end of organ recitals, he now employs a joke designed to elicit banknotes: ‘The lady collecting your donations today is rather frail, so please don’t load her down with coins.’

A survey by the BBC earlier this year found that out of 38 cathedral deans, 26 were ‘worried’ or ‘very worried’ about the financial future. Many cathedrals are only just breaking even, and some remote ones off the tourist trail are running at a deficit. They might be asset-rich, but they’re cash-poor and selling any of those assets is either against the rules or as short-termist as selling the family silver.

Unlike in France, where cathedrals are propped up by state, in the UK cathedrals are totally self-financing. Keeping them going is like trying to run a private school with no fee-paying parents or a small kingdom with no taxpayers. George Osborne did release a one-off gift of £20 million two years ago, to be shared among 42 cathedrals: the ‘First World War Centenary Cathedral Repair Fund’.

Cathedrals were prostrate with gratitude for that handout, but the money was guzzled up in no time in urgent, unglamorous repairs such as rewiring. Year after year, cathedrals have to find the money to fund their choir (sometimes paying a large chunk of the choristers’ school fees), the salaries of all the vergers and other members of paid staff, the heating, the lighting, and above all the upkeep of the priceless crumbling buildings.

Increasingly desperate for the public to grasp this, they’ve taken to stating on their websites the eye-popping daily cost of keeping a cathedral open: that’s £6,000 a day for Ely, £12,000 a day for Salisbury, £18,000 a day for Canterbury, £20,000 a day for York Minster. Every five years there is an inspection of the fabric of the cathedral and the result is always that the roof requires urgent attention, at a cost of £1.5 million between now and the next quinquennial inspection.

Cathedral websites and noticeboards cajole us to ‘donate now’, ‘leave a legacy’, ‘adopt a stone’, ‘sign a slate’ or ‘donate by text’. The saddest JustGiving page I’ve ever seen is currently visible if you look up Truro Cathedral’s roof appeal. ‘Target: £3.2 million,’ it says. ‘Amount raised: £198.49.’ Across the UK, congregations sit shivering in coats and scarves for evensong because heating is unaffordable. Cathedrals rely increasingly on an army of saintly volunteers (about 15,000 of them across the country) who don’t even get their parking reimbursed.

In a sense, this is what makes British cathedrals so charmingly vibrant. The welcoming atmosphere comes from the fact that they’re looked after by volunteers, who arrange the gladioli themselves out of love for the place and who really enjoy collecting up the hymnbooks and prayer books and putting them into separate green and black piles.


But will the next generation be so willing to volunteer? Like a great old family fallen on hard times, even the cathedrals that are struggling the most are good at keeping up appearances. So far, choirs have not been cut. The singing of sublime liturgical music by superb choirs is one of the miracles of English life, and it still carries on. Cutting that would be unthinkable.

Or would it? Last year, at Llandaff Cathedral, all seven adult choir members were made redundant straight after Christmas. The money raised from those seven redundancies made up £45,000 of the cathedral’s £81,000 shortfall — which shows how very little those lay clerks were being paid in the first place. ‘Oh, that’s the Church in Wales,’ one dean said to me. ‘Nothing as drastic as that has happened in an English cathedral. Choirs will be the very last thing to go.’ But the unthinkable is only unthinkable until somebody does it.

Charging for entry is an obvious solution, and 11 cathedrals, including St Paul’s, Canterbury, York, Lincoln, Ely and Coventry, have resorted to this. This is done with a heavy heart and provisos — such as never having to pay to attend a service or that entry is free if you can prove you live within a five-mile radius.

Currently it costs £18 to get into St Paul’s Cathedral and £15 for York Minster. Deans justify charges by reminding us that, in medieval times, if you visited a monastery and you couldn’t pay up, you would have had a broom put into your hand and been told to get sweeping. Characters in Trollope novels ‘paid their threepence’ to go into cathedrals.

The sad fact is that cathedrals need these charges in order to stay afloat. Canterbury costs £6.5 million per year to run, so the £3.5 million raised through entry charges pays for just 200 days out of 365. And you can see why they get away with it. Coachloads of tourists pour in, treating the place as a visitor attraction rather than a place of worship, and they expect to pay. (Although the Dean of Canterbury, Robert Willis, told me that Dutch tour guides have become canny at arriving exactly half an hour before evensong, when the charges stop.)

But does charging work for less-visited cathedrals? Both the Dean of Truro and the Dean of Hereford feel strongly that to start charging to gain entrance to their beautiful but remote cathedrals would not work. It would cause bad feeling in the county, and people simply wouldn’t come in. The sub-dean of Coventry, David Stone, feels uncomfortable about charging, and wishes it could stop: ‘We want our visitors to feel like guests to be cherished, not clients to be exploited.’ As soon as they started charging, visitor numbers went down.

This also happened at Chester cathedral. The sub-dean, Peter Howell-Jones, who was brought in four years ago to arrest the cathedral’s terminal decline, told me that when they started charging £6 for entry, visitor numbers plummeted from 700,000 a year to 60,000. ‘Charging for entry is a slippery slope to oblivion,’ he says. ‘You’re basing your budget on a set of figures, but what if the numbers drop off?’ Since his arrival, the cathedral has abolished entry charges, and last year’s visitor numbers were back up to a healthy quarter of a million.

But how to make up the shortfall in cash? Today’s deans send themselves on mini-MBA courses at the Judge Business School to find out. The way forward, Howell-Jones firmly believes, is to be brazen about extracting money from visitors through the ‘encouraged donations model’. You don’t make people pay, but you encourage them in such a way that they want to do so. The theory goes like this: you welcome them in and then employ a team of trained people to talk to them on their way out about how much the cathedral costs to run and then they’ll give of their own free will. But, in reality, they’re asked to give £3 and actually give an average of £1.20.

So you need to encourage them to have ‘a secondary spend’ in the cathedral café and gift shop, now transformed into high-end, profit-making arms of the business. Deans are becoming less embarrassed about promoting their cathedrals not just as spiritual spaces but also as self-financing enterprises at liberty to generate funds in whichever way they can.

In order to survive they have to live by the premise, ‘If you’ve got it, flaunt it, and make money out of it.’ Raise rents for any property you own. Make visitors pay to see any historic treasures. Put ‘pilgrims’ up in hotel-style accommodation and charge market prices for it. And charge businesses vast amounts for using the ‘Desmond Tutu Room’ as a conference space.

Cathedrals are thinking radical thoughts, such as: ‘What about allowing film crews to film in the nave?’ ITV had wanted to film its recent crime drama series Midwinter of the Spirit in Hereford Cathedral but the dean took a dim view of some of the content, which involved exorcism and supernatural horror.

Chester Cathedral had no such reservations — its nave has now been transformed into a gigantic entertaining space for corporate dinners, which can accommodate 2,000 people in black tie. This fantastic initiative brings in as much as £45,000 in one evening. What about a catwalk in the cloisters? Well, why not? Westminster Abbey has cut a deal with Gucci, which in June will hold a fashion show in the cloisters of the abbey.

Cathedral deans have decided that this is not the time to be precious. They should be thanked for that. If their initiatives bring in the funds to maintain the tradition of daily worship going, unbroken, as well as keeping the roof on, any — and every — money-spinning scheme is justified.

While Truro Cathedral’s JustGiving page had raised just £198.49 at the time of going to print, Truro Cathedral have since been in contact to say that offline donations have raised £597,000. To donate click here.

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  • mikewaller

    I never let an American friend of mine – now sadly dead and possibly having had to account to a more authoritative judge – that solely to save his party of students paying the York entrance fee had the whole group attend Evensong! Shameful!

  • ThatOneChap

    To be honest, I don’t have that much of an issue with making cathedrals more profitable, public spaces. They were historically so and as long as their purpose isn’t forgotten, whatever can help them be maintained and still exist as places of worship is fine by me.

  • SunnyD

    I’m dying to hear Father Todd Cuntious’s take on this article – you have a penchant for dilapidated church buildings don’t you Father?

    • Father Todd Unctious

      See above. Our medieval churches and cathedrals are one of the World’s great art treasures. We should fund them properly. But they ought not to be the private meeting place of the protestant sect. They should be community assets.

  • Trini’s dad

    Me dyin two read won praapa comment yet.

  • T Gould

    It’s quite bizarre that we have an established church but no subsidies for cathedrals.

    • Father Todd Unctious

      I am a member here f the Churches Conservation Trust. We look after almost 400 redundant churches that the CofE would not or could not maintain and host 2 million visitors. We get a modest Government grant of £4 million but spend £13 million a year, 82% of it on Church maintenance. Needless to say the Government grant has reduced by about 50% in recent years.
      If the Government were to help all 10,000 of our medieval churches it could cost up to £400 million a year. But surely money well spent on these national treasures.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Tax exempt status insufficient?

    • Sanctimony

      Jack, how are all those Far Eastern temples and shrines maintained ?

  • carl jacobs

    Are the cathedrsls first places of worship or first places of heritage? If the later, the state should pay. If the former the church has better things on which to spend its money.

    • EUSSR 4 All!

      Can it be both (provided that the State does not get to directly subsidise the religious activities which take place therein)?!

      • carl jacobs

        I wouldn’t take that deal. If the state pays, it has standing to make rules about usage. Subsidies lead to control.

        • EUSSR 4 All!

          It is not actually a standing Government policy, only a Tory/Coalition Government policy, on only some costs of the upkeep … not entirely unfair considering that predominantly Labour-controlled Councils are practically funding the construction of mosques, with practically free gifts of parcels of land, a free pass at planning-permission process, &c., &c..

  • pobjoy

    We’ve all done it

    In your journalistic dream world.

  • Adam Carter

    Hereford Cathedral is certainly beautiful, but by what standard is it remote?

    • pobjoy

      Hereford is not on a motorway. That makes it remote enough, for many people. It’s quite a long way from a motorway, in fact. A return train journey to Hereford from Birmingham New Street takes three hours, and costs £16, and that’s before putting one’s fiver in the plate, and of course getting one’s own plate of victuals. Hereford has a population of 56,000, tiny for a city, most of them agriculturally dependent, like the sparse population surrounding. If one was to build a major place of worship, or of any other activity, there would be hundreds of industrialised UK conurbations more feasible than Hereford. That’s a difficulty for most of the medieval cathedrals. Most people today live where there used to be agriculture, a long time ago.

      The remoteness does not stop there; and it applies to cathedrals in major cities, also. As one enters a cathedral, one is immediately aware of one’s remoteness from something supposedly superior to oneself. There is literally a polarity; a ‘holy’ end, and consequently a ‘mucky’ end. And the echoes don’t help. That’s why chapels were built, and it’s why many people calling themselves Christians have forsaken even those to meet in their own houses. The Dean and Chapter of Hereford reckon to to proclaim Christ’s love, and there is no reason to suppose them insincere; but this will be despite the building, not because of it, other than its fame.

      • EUSSR 4 All!

        Hereford is a town , not a city, but so what?! And what kind of a right-thinking person of sound mind, in his right mind, would want to have his own town situated right next door to Birmingham (or probably Leicester, or Manchester, or Bradford, or a few other Pennine or South and West Yorkshire towns) anyway, given the “unique enriching cultural scene”, notwithstanding of (or perhaps especially) given what happened in Brussels very recently?!

        • pobjoy

          See your doctor.

          • EUSSR 4 All!

            Too late for David Dixon, alas.

        • Father Todd Unctious

          Hereford is a City. The sign as you enter says City of Hereford. Their website is called The City of Hereford website.

          • EUSSR 4 All!

            De facto (due to economic importance), or de jure, due to a Royal Charter, an Act of Parliament, a Royal Warrant, a Royal Proclamation or an Order-in-Council? A nice bit of pedantry in a way, I suppose!

          • Father Todd Unctious

            Do you imply that something disqualifies Hereford from city status?

          • EUSSR 4 All!

            Is Omagh, Durham, Southall, Ripon or Beverley a town or a city? Anyway, I myself am probably just a little more interested in international intrigue than little local English pedantry and history!

          • Father Todd Unctious

            Beverley has no Cathedral. It has a Minster church, so is a town. Ripon is a Cathedral city and Durham most definitely is. Durham cathedral is a World Heritage site of great importance.

          • EUSSR 4 All!

            I think, for modern, practical and everyday lay purposes, an urban settlement in England, which does not have both its own two-letter Royal Mail postcode and its own unique 5- or 6-digit BT dialling code, is not (usually or) really a city. Is Ely e.g. really a city for non-State, non-ceremonial and non-ecclesiastical purposes?

          • Father Todd Unctious

            Are you seeking to redefine cities? In the UK ,like most of Europe, a city is an incorporated municipality usually the seat of a bishop. Having a Cathedral is the most common indicator of a city. You seem to think size is more important.

          • EUSSR 4 All!

            I don’t really think so. “Incorporation” in England and Wales (and even Northern Ireland), in term of a city, is a very specific legal term. It means either by Letters Patent [or Royal Charter, or both], or by Act of Parliament (or Act of the Parliament of England, Great Britain or Ireland).

            http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.dca.gov.uk/constitution/city/citygj.htm
            https://www.gov.uk/government/news/results-of-diamond-jubilee-civic-honours-competition-announced

          • Father Todd Unctious

            I can’t quite believe you are trying to argue that cities are not really cities.

        • JohnnyNorfolk

          Of course its a city. Even little Ely is a city. I would start night school if i were you.

      • Father Todd Unctious

        Motorway is 14 miles away at Ross on the.

        • pobjoy

          The oily fox returns, for more lead shot in the hinder parts. Sixteen miles, apparently; whereas Exeter, Taunton, Bristol, Worcester, Cheltenham, Gloucester and a thousand other major conurbations are better served.

          • Father Todd Unctious

            Taunton and Cheltenham are not Cathedral cities.
            Many of our great Cathedral cities are remote from motorways. I can think of York, Lincoln Ely, Norwich, Chichester, Salisbury, Truro, Bangor even Canterbury.

          • Sanctimony

            I believe Brighton now has city status… the Pink City…

          • Father Todd Unctious

            Brighton and Hove has been a City since the Millennium celebrations.

    • EUSSR 4 All!

      West of the River Severn …

      • Father Todd Unctious

        Nearly Wales.

      • Adam Carter

        The cathedral is a few hundred yards east of the the River Severn.

        • Father Todd Unctious

          That’ll be the river Wye. The Severn runs through Worcester 24 miles to the East.

          • Adam Carter

            You are right.
            I was spectacularly wrong on that one.

    • JohnnyNorfolk

      Ely is remote being on an island.

  • How come we could build all these beautiful cathedrals in the middle ages, when we were poor, and now we are are rich, we can’t afford to maintain them?
    Anything to do with Henry VIII I wonder?

    • mikewaller

      How about different priorities such as the NHS, free education for all up to age 18, a wonderful road network, old age pensions etc etc.!

      • Sue Smith

        And it’s precisely for the reasons you’ve outlined that western nations are bankrupt. Income redistribution now means it’s impossible for government to balance budgets and control debt; everyone will be worse off as nations grow increasingly poorer. You are either part of the problem or part of the solution.

        Get back to church and get used to the begging bowl.

      • Anna Bananahammok

        Don’t forget the billions we send terrorist groups in aid each year.

        • mikewaller

          In your case, David Kirkaldry’s brilliant: “Facts not opinions” need to be modified to the more pithy “Facts not crap”.

    • JohnnyNorfolk

      There was no welfare state. thats where all the money goes.

      • Sanctimony

        Bravo, Squire… at least your serfs can rely on your feudal principles and rest easy in their beds at night in the knowledge that you have their interests at heart….

        • JohnnyNorfolk

          Mind your manners.

    • pobjoy

      We can afford maintenance, but cathedrals do not meet the needs of enough people to pay for them. They were built when most were illiterate, unable to read that Christ can be worshipped in a kitchen or a field, where two or three meet meet in his name, with no need for clerical presence. Which means that cathedrals were not built for beauty, else they would still be financially viable. They were built for means that do not align with democracy, and the public know it.

  • mikewaller

    On reflection, I would have one inconvenient narrow entrance over which I would put a sign saying “Free entrance for those whose sole reason for entering is religious and who otherwise would be excluded.” All the other, much more commodious, entrances everybody would have to pay a fixed and substantial entrance charge.

  • JohnJ

    Well you are lucky. ISIS and all related attacks around the world will drive people back to the one religion that preaches peace and forgiveness. Don’t get me wrong I am no Christian – but in the current clime – it is better than the looming alternative. I’ll go with loaves and fishes, ‘give unto Caesar’, the good Samaritan and the example of Jesus, any day over “strike terror into the hearts the unbelievers” and the example of Mohammed.
    Stay the course, Christians. If our local Church is any indication – attendance is up like you wouldn’t believe ( sorry).

  • MC

    Non believers are the biggest growing group in Europe. I wouldn’t like these places turned into mosques, as has happened to many smaller churches as that would be out of the frying pan and into the fire.
    I’m all for a serious review of how a building can cost even £1million per year, let alone £20 million. When a sensible figure is found, these places can be turned into historical places of interest rather than out dated fairylands.

    • Fairyland? So you know nothing of the Gospel, or of 2000 years of Christian history? You believe that it is a fairy story which led numberless legions gladly to face a painful death? Which engendered numberless artistic masterpieces? You believe that the meaning of life is Nothing? Pshaw!
      Use your powers of reason. Follow the evidence.
      Happy Easter!

      Χριστός ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη!

      Christ is Risen! Truly He is risen!

      • MC

        The belief in Christianity spurred the masterpieces not the fiction which underlies it. Now that the plebs have been educated, Plato’s story is unravelling, a new Renaissance is pushing at the door.
        .
        The post-religion era is beginning.
        .
        Happy Easter.

        • carl jacobs

          Well it has certainly arrived in Europe. But Europe is dying. Or hadn’t you noticed?

      • MC

        “Χριστός ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη” (Christ has risen!)
        I know how you feel. It seems like a miracle worth rejoicing when my teenage daughter finally get’s up in the morning.

    • Fairyland? So you know nothing of the Gospel, or of 2000 years of Christian history? You believe that it is a fairy story which led numberless legions gladly to face a painful death? Which engendered numberless artistic masterpieces? You believe that the meaning of life is Nothing? Pshaw!
      Use your powers of reason. Follow the evidence.
      Happy Easter!

      Χριστός ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη!

      Christ is Risen! Truly He is risen!

  • MC

    Non believers are the biggest growing group in Europe. I wouldn’t like these places turned into mosques, as has happened to many smaller churches as that would be out of the frying pan and into the fire.
    I’m all for a serious review of how a building can cost even £1million per year, let alone £20 million. When a sensible figure is found, these places can be turned into historical places of interest rather than out dated fairylands.

  • Steve Challenger

    Perhaps the buildings built by Catholics and purloined by the state after the reformation, should be returned to the Catholic faith.

    • MC

      If one ignores the fact that half or more of all UK cathedrals were build during the protestant era, it still won’t solve the problem of over bearing costs.

      • Father Todd Unctious

        Not quite. 23 of England’s 42 Cathedrals were built before 1558( when we went Protestant). Most Welsh and Scots ones are medieval too.

    • Sanctimony

      I have been to a couple of marriages in the last couple of years where one or other of the betrothed were Catholics and the weddings were celebrated in ancient Anglican churches, with a token Papist cleric hovering in the background… perhaps there is some hope for ecumenism…

      • Noa

        “..a token papist cleric hovering…” eh?

        Not much encouragement for ecumenism there.

        • Father Todd Unctious

          Ted. There’s nuns.

      • Father Todd Unctious

        Now then. Less of that sort of thing.

    • Jacobi

      Certainly not. We can’t possibly afford them!

  • JohnnyNorfolk

    I would not object to a fiver but £15 is just far too much.

    • MC

      Surely if there’s a good show with a good choir, it is worth the equal to an evening out at the theatre, £20-£40 minimum. If the stand up comedy / vicar is good, Shirley it would be worth more.

      • JohnnyNorfolk

        Not for a leftie sermon its not. They appear to have plenty of money for new horrible modern art work.

        • MC

          You may have hit the nail on the head there, and why ordinary folk are turning their back on the left leaning church.

      • You are right to suggest that very high class musical performance is provided by religious communities throughout the country, but to the greater glory of God rather than for cash. My personal favourite is St Cecilia’s Abbey at Ryde on the Isle of Wight, where the Gregorian chant sung seven times daily is simply transcendent.
        I eagerly await the artistic manifestations of your ‘new Renaissance’, your Albanian-style post-religious culture.

        • MC

          You might be surprised to hear that there’s been a great deal of wonderful art and music not linked to Christianity (or other fables) in the last century or so. Unfortunately, most (if not all) new religious music nowadays is rather awful:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=s4rgTCe2aUE

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVdVCeON6Qg

          We’ll still be able to enjoy chants and other ethereal music from the past in the New Renaissance. Nothing wrong with romanticism of history so long as the truth is known about what really went on in those places.
          What’s wrong with Albanian culture?

    • Sanctimony

      How much would you instruct your servants to put into the plate, old bean ?

    • Lawrence James.

      Yes, but some cathedrals and churches might go in for self-help.Salisbury and York ban brass-rubbers who would probably pay £ 15 or even more. Not far from me is a church with a magnificent collection of brasses, which I rubbed as an undergraduate, forbids brass-rubbing at the same time as appealing for thousands to maintain the roof.

    • mikewaller

      If that is what it costs per capita to maintain the structure what else are they supposed to charge? I sometimes think that welfarism has rotted the English brain!

  • Rob

    This article overlooks the fact that the large majority of English people feel no connection whatsoever with the Church of England or cathedrals. Apart from the Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus, there are plenty of Catholics like myself who have little interest in them, as well as urban working class for whom most cathedrals are wholly alien.

    What many people do not recognise is that England is very much overchurched, i.e. it has far more churches than makes sense given its population.

    I live in Tooting in south London. According to the last census the House of Commons constituency of Tooting has a population of 106,084 and is 50% Christian. Within the constituency there are the following churches:

    Church of England: 10
    Catholic: 5
    United Reformed: 3
    Baptist: 7
    Methodist: 2
    Independent/Pentecostal: 3 (Lynwood Christian Fellowship, New Testament Assembly, St Jude’s Free Church of England)

    That’s 30 full on churches with permanent church buildings, ministers, etc. I may have missed some independent/pentecostal churches. I’m not counting those congregations meeting in buildings that are not purpose built churches of which there are at least eight.

    • Father Todd Unctious

      50% of 106,000 is 53,000. Spread over 38 churches that is 1,400 parishioners per church. Only one in ten of those need attend regularly to have thriving congregations.

      • Rob

        I don’t think 140 people is a thriving congregation! That’s 14 rows of 10 people a row. Or, another way, 25 families of 4 people each plus another 40 singles/couples. Only in a Church of England in terminal decline would a congregation of 140 be regards as thriving.

        The Mass I attended on Easter Sunday had over 450 people attending and that was one of six Easter Masses with likely over 1,400 people in total.

        The British Social Attitudes Survey shows the decline in the Church of England. The 2014 survey showed that Catholics and those Christians grouped together as “other” which includes Methodists, Presbyterians and Christians without a denomination, make up 8% and 17% of the population respectively and remain at a similar level as in 1983. By contrast, the proportion of British adults who say they are Anglican fell from 40% in 1983 to 29% in 2004 to 17% in 2014.

        What is fascinating about England is that it is an essentially irreligious society that, at an official level, has a positive view of religion in general and Christianity in particular. David Cameron delivers an Easter message. The state funds faith schools. Universities and hospitals have state-funded chaplaincies and chapels. 26 Church of England bishops sit and vote in the House of Lords. The state gift aids money donates to religious groups. Across the main political parties there is general consensus on this.

        However, a large chunk of public opinion is more hostile to these arrangements than is reflected in the broadcast or print media. The white English lower/middle middle class nominal Church of England member and attendee at Christmas and Easter is now an English lower/middle middle class agnostic and associates religion, including Christianity, with: (i) immigrants/foreigners, (ii) the rich/educated (think Oxbridge college chapels, Brompton Oratory, Holy Trinity Brompton), (iii) the poor (think black evangelical churches in warehouses on industrial estate), (iv) charlatans.

        • Father Todd Unctious

          The UK has 37,000 churches and 28 million professing belief. That equates to 750 per Church. Your area has half the national average typical number of Churches.

  • Jacobi

    Much the same in the Catholic Church. The decline of church attendance and therefore financial contributions will have this effect inevitably sooner or later. Bishops are managing decline!

    Mark you some should be allowed to go. We probably have too many. The second ugliest building I have ever seen (the ugliest is by far the Scottish Devolved Assembly at Holy Rood ) is the Catholic cathedral in a rather well known German city, and Liverpool, in the UK is a bit of a joke.

    No, fewer Cathedrals for a little while till things bounce back again which they will in a couple of hundred years or so. We can always restore the ruins, including the old Coventry ruins if necessary, if we need them!

  • Terence Hale

    “The price of a cathedral – and how deans pay it”. The last few month I have been toddling along in Europe. I have visited some wonderful churches in the external architecture as the internal design. Ranging from the ostentatious catholic to the humble protestant. Leaving the color of God aside should not these churches be eligible for money from the Arts council for a cultural contribution.

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