Cathedrals in crisis: the fears of the closure as the half face big cash problems

As many as half of England’s Anglican cathedrals are facing financial crisis and closure can not be excluded, according to the chair of the investigative task force of the archbishops of Canterbury and York.

Adrian Newman, Bishop of Stepney, said of the cathedrals group would examine the “potential reputational harm to the Church if individual cathedrals fail”. The group, which meets for the first time at the beginning of next month, is the review of the governance and financial management of England’s 42 Anglican cathedrals.

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Cathedral deans are meeting in London this week, as concerns far the most revered grow over the spiraling cost of operating, repairing and maintaining some of the country’s old buildings.

“In the course of the last 100 years, there has never been a time, in the Cathedral sector, riding on the crest of a wave,” Newman, a former Dean of Rochester Cathedral, told the Guardian. “The challenges are not new, but we look at a new scale and the depth at the moment.

“My finger-in-the-wind estimate is that perhaps half of the cathedrals in front of significant financial challenges, although pretty much all of them are in the planning as you go, through, the. Although it seems inconceivable, is it possible to imagine a situation in which a Person of the Cathedral could come in a situation so desperate that there is no obvious solution.”

Cathedrals to draw over 11 million visitors each year, but the running costs and the maintenance costs are enormous. Only nine of them charge an admission fee, and the remaining 33 have to rely on donations, bequests and grants and, increasingly, income from commercial activities.

“Cathedrals in a world where the demand for their services is growing, but financing of the environment is the challenge, the legal and bureaucratic requirements are pretty voracious, and there is no lender of last resort,” said Newman.

The public funding dried up, he added. “There has never been a time in the past 25 to 30 years, when we had so little public money in the cathedrals,” he said. “And I think that needs looking at again.”

Durham Cathedral has an annual deficit of £500,000, and is prohibited in front of a £40m bill, be dean. Photo: fotoMonkee/Getty Images/Vetta

The construction of the cathedrals was the working group is prompted by a crisis in Peterborough Cathedral, to the acrimonious departure of the Dean and several redundancies. A report, ordered by the Bishop, Donald Allister, called for a review of the 1999 cathedrals measure, the regulate your running, to determine whether it is fit for the purpose for almost two decades.

In Exeter, an investigation by the Bishop, the Cathedral, the castle was ordered in a precarious financial situation and that a “change of culture in the Cathedral leadership” was necessary. The dean, Jonathan Draper, is currently in educational leave and will retire this summer.

The possible closure of the Guildford Cathedral consecrated in 1961, was put forward rejected earlier this year after local councils to sell the plans, seven acres of land for 137 apartments. The proposal to secure a £10m endowment to the Cathedral of the future, was supported by the planning officials and Historic England, but rather against the local residents.

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Support the sell-off, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said the Council is convinced that the cathedrals’ “very serious financial hardship … are not so serious, because the Central Church would have to ‘save’ you from total collapse” was wrong. “This is not the case.”

Guildford Cathedral, the running costs are £3,500 per day, while the average visitor is a gift from 35p. In the past three years, almost £7m has been raised by the Heritage Lottery Fund and donations for a large project to strip asbestos from the Cathedral ceiling, vaulted, improve accessibility and installation of new lighting and sound systems. The work is expected to be completed in July.

“Like a modern Cathedral, we need to work harder to a goal,” said Susan Barry, the head of fundraising. The Dean of the Cathedral described it as a “huge crematorium on a hill”.

Barry countered: “as soon as you know a foot in the doors, why are you here. It is the simplicity, boldness, purity, and space in the architecture, which allows the reflection and to think properly. It is a great wow-factor, but also a General lack of understanding of what it takes to keep such as an extremely large and complex building.”

Dianna Gwilliams, the Dean, said she was deeply disappointed with the planning, decision-making, and the Chapter of the Cathedral roof Association – pondered his next steps.

“We are not planning for the closure, we are as busy as ever,” she said. “I think the future is bright, but the task is quite steep. We have such a rich heritage in the UK, and funding is a challenge for all of us.”

Guildford Cathedral. Photograph: Loop Images/UIG via Getty Images

Durham Cathedral has an annual deficit of £500,000, and a £40m bill for repairs on its 900-year-old structures over the next 15 to 20 years, according to its dean, Andrew Tremlett.

It attracts 750,000 visitors per year, of which there are donation raises £150,000 per year. The sum of the current cost of £10,000 per day for two weeks.

“We are one of the few historic cathedrals, the fee for entry,” said Tremlett. Most of Durham visitors from the region. In contrast, 85% of visitors to the Westminster Abbey, the cost of entry is £20 per adult, are foreign tourists. “There is a feeling that this is a people’s Cathedral. It is not a simple matter, the fee for entry, if you will serve ‘ re a community.”

The Chapter has a financial strategy, the deficit, which includes the Open treasures is a permanent exhibition, charting Christian history and culture in the North-East of England, for which there is a £7.50 fee for adults. To win the exhibition 120,000 visitors hopes in the year.

“It is a very challenging situation. Even a immediate dollop of money is not the answer; we need to have a sustainable income. Cathedrals are like the Forth Bridge, you never get to the end of the repairs that need to be done,” said Tremlett.

The cathedrals, the working group, whose members are in work-politicians, Maeve Sherlock and Jack Straw, is expected to report in December.