MORE than ten million people visited Church of England cathedrals in 2014, new research has found.
The report Cathedral Statistics 2014, published on Wednesday by the Archbishops’ Council, suggests that, on average, 36,000 people, including children, attended cathedral services each week. And, in the past decade, the number of those visiting cathedrals has increased by one fifth.
The head of research and statistics at the Archbishops’ Council, Dr Bev Botting, said: “Over the last decade we have seen growth in both visitors and worship at cathedrals. Christmas and Easter are particularly busy times but we have also seen the increase of adult and child midweek attendance.”
Other parts of cathedral life have also seen growth. The number of children attending educational events at cathedrals has risen by 14 per cent since 2004, and there are now some 15,000 volunteers helping out at cathedrals.
Average attendance on Sundays has remained broadly level, at 18,200 in 2014. Ten years earlier it stood at 18,500. It is in attendance between Monday and Saturday that numbers have really increased — in 2004 it was 11,400, but last year it was 18,500.
Christmas Day attendance was 124,800, which is just a few hundred more than the previous year. There has been a 15-per-cent increase in Christmas attendance in the past decade. Easter Day 2014 saw 53,100 people attend a cathedral service, fractionally down from 53,300 in 2013. The average attendance at each cathedral at Easter was 1260.
Some 4000 choristers — adults and children — sung at cathedrals in 2014; half of those as volunteers. There were also 760 baptisms, 310 marriages, and 290 funerals in cathedrals.
The Dean of Newcastle, the Very Revd Christopher Dalliston, said that responding to the huge increase in tourists was one of his cathedral’s priorities. He said: “We’ve developed a chaplaincy scheme; so as well as having welcomers to help people who want to come and explore, we can articulate clearly the spiritual dimension of the cathedral, and we have found that’s been enormously appreciated.”
Dean Dalliston said: “What people have really discovered is that when they drop in to worship or visit, they find a community that is welcoming, open, and inclusive.”