Soaring Cathedral Attendance Buttresses Church Worship Figures

Canterbury CathedralReuters

The Church of England and its sister Episcopal Church across the Atlantic might be experiencing steady and apparently inexorable decline.

But latest figures show attendance at England's 42 cathedrals is soaring.

The rise is in mid-week attendance but even Sunday attendance is remaining stable, according to the latest cathedral statistics published by the Church of England today.

On average 36,700 adults and children went to a cathedral service each week in 2015, a staggering increase over the previous decade of 18 per cent.

Westminster Abbey

This represents more than 6,000 new people attending cathedral worship in the Church of England.

In one year alone, numbers on community rolls increased by 5 per cent, up from 15,100 in 2014 to 15,900 in 2015.

In addition, the "fresh expressions" or new types of services and schools services, which are not counted in the main figures, attracted nearly half a million more people into the cathedrals.

More than 1.1 million people attended 5,310 public and civic events held in cathedrals in 2015 in total.

Derby Cathedral

Dean of Liverpool Pete Wilcox said: "These figures are extremely encouraging.

"They show that, up and down the country, cathedrals are sustaining the growth that has been reported for a number of years. Clearly, something about cathedral worship is meeting a need and contributing significantly to the spiritual life of the nation."

At Easter last year, 54,000 went to cathedral services, 2 per cent more than in 2014. Attendance during Holy Week, from Palm Sunday to Good Friday, was 92,500.

Christmas attendance was 125,200 in 2015, the highest figure since 2011. 

And the number of children and young people attending organised educational events in cathedrals has increased by 14 per cent from 280,900 in 2005 to 320,000 in 2015.

A further 13,100 children visited Westminster Abbey.

The Abbey, in common with many other cathedrals around the country, now has the additional attraction for young people of many Pokéstop around its medieval walls and chapels.

There have also been suggestions online that the fabled cat-like legendary Pokémon "Mew" might spawn at Westminster Abbey, adding to its appeal to the young.

The number of people volunteering at cathedrals has also risen, by 13 per cent from 13,300 in 2005 to 15,000 in 2015. There were 9.4 million visitors to cathedrals in 2015. A further one million people visited Westminster Abbey.

Pages from the Lindisfarne Gospels projected onto Durham CathederalReuters