THIRTEEN entrants are battling it out to be named as the UK’s most popular cathedral. The online poll, which has been organised by the website TripAdvisor, is currently being dominated by Durham Cathedral, which has received 48 per cent of the 20,000 votes cast so far.
Many of the 12 other cathedrals in the running, however, have launched campaigns, urging their congregations and fans to go online to vote for them in a bid to overhaul Durham’s huge lead.
At the time of going to press, Lincoln Cathedral was in second place, with 26 per cent of the vote; and Lichfield in third, with 12 per cent.
A press release promoting Lichfield noted that it was the only three-spired medieval cathedral in the UK, as well as the burial site of the “great Anglo-Saxon missionary Bishop St Chad”.
“Lichfield is often under-valued, but should be heralded as a national treasure; so we would be extremely grateful if people could vote for us in this competition,” the cathedral’s director of operations and enterprise, Simon Warburton, said.
“It is an honour to be shortlisted for this award; and it is a real validation of the cathedral’s beauty, the hard work of our staff and volunteers, and the diverse programme of activity we undertake.”
But Lichfield is far from being the only cathedral trying to rein in Durham’s commanding lead in the contest. Bristol, currently at fifth place with just two per cent of the vote, has staked its own claim.
The Dean, the Very Revd Dr David Hoyle, said: “I know that Bristol Cathedral is a glorious building — and I am delighted that other people recognise this when they come and visit us. We hope that this will help Bristol Cathedral to become better known.”
Bristol Cathedral has some of the most significant medieval architecture in Britain, its press release said: it has “extraordinary Norman stone carving in the Chapter House”, and “a rich programme of services and events”.
Despite its huge lead in the contest, Durham is not resting on its laurels. Its press release notes that it is the most-visited free attraction in the north-east, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has the “most intact surviving set of medieval monastic buildings” in Britain, and is the resting place of both St Cuthbert and the Venerable Bede.
“We would encourage as many people as possible to vote in this competition, and extend our congratulations to the other worthy nominees,” the Dean, the Very Revd Andrew Tremlett, said.
Guildford Cathedral, which is more commonly in the news because of its financial difficulties (News, 24 February), listed no fewer than seven reasons it should claim the title of the UK’s most popular cathedral.
Among them are its “world-class choir”, its packed schedule of free community events, and some of the best panoramic views in the south of England. “Guildford Cathedral isn’t the oldest, the biggest, or the most ornate cathedral,” one of the cathedral’s volunteers, Marion, said, “but it can claim to be the most popular in the sense that it was built by the people who it now serves.”
The commercial and administration co-ordinator at Carlisle Cathedral, Wendy Murrell, said: “We may be the second smallest cathedral in England, but we are also one of the most fascinating.
“Visitors marvel at our exquisite star-covered blue ceiling, and comment on the wealth of our history and the friendliness of our volunteer guides and welcomers. Small, in our case, really is beautiful!”
On Tuesday, Durham Cathedral was named BBC Countryfile Magazine’s Heritage Site of the Year, after being short-listed in January by Bill Bryson, Stonehenge, Rutland Water, Tenby, and Skara Brae.
About 56,000 votes were cast across 12 categories including “Pub of the Year” and “Holiday Destination of the Year” from 19 January to 28 February. The cathedral welcomes more than 750,000 visitors a year, and was the most visited free attraction in the north-east in 2016.
To cast your vote, visit blog.holidaylettings.co.uk/vote-the-uks-most-popular-cathedral. The result will be announced on 31 March.