19 August 2015, The Tablet

10 million visitors to English cathedrals last year

Over 10 million people visited Cathedrals in England last year, according to a new report by the Church of England.

An average of 36,000 people attended Cathedral services each week, an increase of nearly a quarter in the last decade.

The research found that this growth was associated with factors like creating a sense of community; high quality worship, preaching and music; exploring new patterns of services; spiritual openness; emphasis on families and young people.

In a blog post for the Church of England, the Very Reverend Christopher Dalliston, Dean of St Nicholas’ Cathedral, Newcastle, described how St Nicholas’ makes a particular effort to engage tourists coming to visit but not expressly to worship. He wrote: “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.”

St Nicholas’ has also developed to serve vulnerable people in the city at night. For several years, it has hosted a "Street Pastors" scheme. Street Pastors care for, listen to and help people who are out in Newcastle late at night, providing flip-flops to women who have taken off painful high heels, and talking drunk people through their problems. Occasionally the Cathedral itself is open late on Friday nights as an informal space for stillness, peace, and spiritual exploration. These "Late Shows" include sung Compline, which last year was attended by between 200 and 300 people.

The Dean attributes the growth in Cathedral attendance to “the fact that permission is offered for anyone to come whenever and for whatever purpose, but that there is an opportunity to engage at a deeper level.”

The findings appeared in the Church of England’s Cathedral Research and Statistics report, released today.

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