Why Are English Cathedrals So Successful? Government Minister Begins Grand Tour To Find Out

Jerry Lepine, Dean of Bradford, with communities minister Lord Bourne at Bradford Cathedral

Government minister Lord Bourne has announced today a "grand tour" of all 42 cathedrals in England over the course of a year.

Cathedrals are one of the success stories of the Church of England. Figures today showed church attendance once more in relentless decline, but the Church disclosed last month that cathedrals are the exception to this trend. 

On average 36,700 adults and children attended cathedral services each week last year, an increase of 18 per cent from 31,200 in 2005. Almost all of the increase is due to increased midweek attendance but even Sunday worship has resisted decline and remained stable.

Lord Bourne's visits are intended to bring more attention to the contribution cathedrals make to the community and to celebrate their architectural and religious heritage.

His tour began yesterday at Bradford Cathedral where he discussed with Dean of Bradford Jerry Lepine how cathedrals offer places for social support and interfaith work.

Lord Bourne, Communities Minister, said: "From Bradford to Bristol, each of the nation's cathedrals is unique and offers each of us a chance to experience our rich heritage first hand.

"Because of this I want to champion the role of cathedrals at the heart of our diverse cities, communities and faiths over the next year.

"I hope that communities around the England join me in learning more about our beautiful cathedrals and help preserve them for future generations."

The Government set up the First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund 2016-2018 to provide cathedrals across England with funds for essential repairs, from heating systems to stained glass windows.

Earlier this year a strategic review of England's 16,000 cathedrals and churches was launched to work out how they can remain at the centre of civic life while also being properly maintained and funded. Three-quarters of the UK's churches and cathedrals are listed buildings. Two-thirds of churches are in rural areas where just one fifth of the population lives.