Why do people visit cathedrals?

By | Category: Travel news

Durham Cathedral dominates the skyline

Apart from religious reasons, the attraction of a cathedral is in its age and its architecture. But precisely because of those two, the upkeep and maintenance costs are enormous. After all, generally you don’t find small cathedrals. And we, as visitors, contribute to the decay by walking over the tiles, rubbing pillars and walking the grounds.

So just about every cathedral is always involved in some money raising scheme to repair some aspect of the building. Could they manage it on their own without the help of the HLF? (Heritage Lottery Fund.) Already this year the HLF has provided £19.1 million to just three, Guildford, Rochester and Westminster cathedrals. Since 1995, the HLF has invested nearly £70m in 58 cathedrals across the UK.

Now another two have received funds. £3.9 million goes to Durham Cathedral – surely one of the most striking in any of our countries. Whether you drive into the city or take the train, there stands the cathedral dominating the landscape. This money will enable the display of original 13th-century copies of the Magna Carta alongside other artefacts in celebration of the 800th anniversary of the charter in 2015. The Monks’ Dormitory and Great Kitchen will be restored to house an exhibition showcasing the history of the cathedral and its monastic community. In addition there will be a new gallery, to be created in a hidden void between existing medieval buildings and forming a new visitor route.

Peterborough Cathedral is the other recipient. This money will fund a more welcoming entrance to the 13th-century Early English Gothic West Front and help display the history of the building. The Grade I listed Knights’ Chamber, located in one of the finest abbey gatehouses in the country, was used by distinguished knights of the day as a meeting place to discuss their heraldic duties. It will be restored to house a new visitor and heritage centre and will open to the public by 2018 to mark the 900th anniversary of the cathedral.

Between them, these two cathedrals attract nearly 700,000 of us each year. If each gave £5.50 then the funding provided by the HLF would be almost matched. It does make you realise just how expensive to run, cathedrals are.

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