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World News

Nearly one in four cathedrals in England now charging for entry

by Donna Birrell

Nearly one in four cathedrals in England now charges for entry.

Of the 42 cathedrals, nine charge for admission, with Westminster Abbey charging the most at £29.

Other cathedrals which charge are Salisbury, St Paul's, Ely, Lincoln, York Minister, Winchester, Canterbury and Exeter. Exeter Cathedral charges the least for admission at £7.50 with under-18s admitted free.

Most cathedrals don't charge an admission fee, but say they are grateful for visitor donations.

The Association of English Cathedrals says cathedrals that do charge, give free access to those attending services and for private prayer. Many also offer residents living close by free entry.

After Westminster Abbey, St Paul's has the highest admission charge - £25 for adults.

York Minster charges £18, Canterbury £17, Ely £14, Winchester charges £12.50, Lincoln £11, Salisbury Cathedral charges £9 for entry and Exeter £7.50.

The cost of running and maintaining a cathedral has spiralled in recent years. In 2017 it cost around £6.5million a year to run Canterbury Cathedral. It now costs around £20,000 per day to maintain - around £7.3million a year.

Some countries in western Europe fund their churches and cathedrals with a national church tax. However in England, each cathedral is responsible for its own finances. As well as entry fees, they raise money through congregational giving, legacies, sums generated by trading activities, income from investments and property and grants from the Church Commissioners. 

Cathedrals benefit from the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme run by the Government, which gives cathedrals an amount equivalent to the irrecoverable VAT paid on repairs and approved alterations to the cathedral church.

Dr Gavin Ashenden, a chaplain of the late Queen Elizabeth told the Telegraph: “Cathedrals have two purposes – one is being a tourist centre and the other a worship centre.

“But it’s absolutely essential that people don’t have to pay to go in and get down on their knees to say their prayers.

“The heart of being a cathedral is an encounter with God.”

Executive Director of the Association of English Cathedrals said :

"Our cathedrals are major contributors to the economies in their local areas, providing employment and volunteer roles and, in many cases, drawing tourists and visitors into cities across the country.

“They not only provide spiritual and pastoral support to their communities but are key to the cultural heritage of our country.”

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