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Cathedrals growing on every day but Sunday

23 September 2016


Special event: Worcester Cathedral staff – Susan MacLeod, Jan Davies, Rebecca Fielder and Susie Arnold – promote a "Wonder Wardrobe" event inspired by the "Dressed for Drama" costume exhibition held at the Cathedral throughout August 

Special event: Worcester Cathedral staff – Susan MacLeod, Jan Davies, Rebecca Fielder and Susie Arnold – promote a "Wonder Wardrobe" event inspi...

MIDWEEK services are responsible for the growth in cathedral worship in recent years. Statistics released this week show that average midweek attendance in the C of E’s 42 cathedrals has grown over the past 11 years from 12,700 in 2005 to 18,900 in 2015. This was the highest it has been, equal with 2013.

Sunday attendance has been largely stable, fluctuating about the 19,000 mark. Last year, the average was down slightly, at 17,900. Total attendance in 2015, none the less, was 36,700, the second highest in the 11-year period.

This is just a small proportion of the people who enter English cathedrals, however. These figures cover only the regular services. Christmas attendance was 125,200 — the highest since 2011; of these, 33,100 were communicants, roughly the same figure as for the past six years. Attendance at Advent services was 824,300, the highest in the past 11 years (723,600 in 2005).

The Easter figures were similarly robust: 54,000 attended in 2015, the second highest in the period (49,100 in 2005); 28,200 communicated, the highest number since 2009.

In addition, 471,300 attended services conducted at least once a month, such as fresh expressions and school services; 942,000 attended diocesan services and festivals; and 1,107,100 attended public and civic events such as graduations. In all, cathedrals put on 5310 public events and 2590 specially arranged services, or an average of 188 per cathedral.

Overall visitor figures were down last year at 9,487,400. In 2013, they were 10,247,700. These were looked after by 15,000 volunteers, up from 13,300 in 2005.

The statistics also include separate figures for Westminster Abbey, a royal peculiar.

In 2015, it received 1.04 million visitors. Average attendance at weekday services was 2320 adults and 250 children. On Sundays, it was 1410 adults and 100 children. During the Advent season, more than 27,100 attended services, and a total of 7700 were at the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services. A total of 5590 attended Holy Week services there.

The statistics also log cathedrals’ musical activity. The number of boy and girl choristers has remained reasonably stable over the past decade, and in 2015 stood at 1490. There were a further 550 lay clerks, and 2010 voluntary-choir members, as well as 1140 regular musicians.

Cathedrals also opened their choir stalls to 790 visiting choirs.

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