ROCHESTER CATHEDRAL has increased its visitor numbers for the fourth year in a row. A statement from the cathedral calls 2019 its “busiest year ever”, after a 23-per-cent increase on the previous year.
An attraction last August was a mini-golf course in the cathedral (News, 2 August), a partnership with the Rochester Bridge Trust, which attracted national interest and 30,831 visitors during the 36 days it was on — almost double the number who came during the same period the previous year: 17,454.
More visitors, however, came the month after to view Knife Angel, the national monument created to highlight the prevalence of knife crime (News, 27 September). Over the 28 days that the sculpture was in place, the cathedral attracted 45,000 visitors, including 2500 schoolchildren in organised groups. This was a sixfold increase on the 2018 numbers for September: 7900, including 445 schoolchildren.
Rochester CathedralThe official opening of the golf in late July 2019
The Chapter Clerk of Rochester, Simon Lace, said last week that these figures were certainly an underestimate. Visitor numbers are counted only when the welcome desk is staffed, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. On weekdays, the cathedral is open from 7.30 a.m. till 6 p.m.
Rochester Cathedral also reported that attendance for worship had increased. Attendance at Advent and Christmas services was 16 per cent up on the previous year: 7096 worshippers, up from 6137, for a similar number of services. Easter attendance was also up, though by a lesser amount, from 2128 to 2491.
Overall attendance figures for the past four years were: 2016: 201,587; 2017: 224,150; 2018: 230,389; 2019: 283,437.
The Dean of Rochester, the Very Revd Dr Philip Hesketh, described Rochester Cathedral as “a generous space proclaiming the wideness in God’s love”. He was delighted that “increasing numbers of people are discovering that the Cathedral’s embrace includes them”.
The next attraction at the cathedral is Luke Jerram’s exhibition “The Museum of the Moon”, which has been touring internationally, and has already appeared in several UK cathedrals. It comes to Rochester from 12 February to 4 March.