Pay to enter a Cathedral?

  IClaudio 22:05 28 Oct 2006

For forty years, I've been visiting cathedrals around the country, revelling in the timeless grandeur of the surroundings, marvelling at the dedication of countless generations of artisans and artists who have constructed and maintained these amazing buildings. I've been part of the ecclesiastical life too, as a singer in the choir of several cathedrals.

Yesterday, I was en route from Kings Lynn to London and fancied a few moments contemplation in a favourite place, Ely Cathedral. The last time I was there, entrance was free, but I left a few quid in the collection box, realizing that it takes a lot money to maintain such a huge edifice.

Yesterday, the lady on the door requested £5.20 for admission.

I declined.

What a shame... I wager that they lost many £5.20s yesterday.

Who does the church belong to? And how do they expect to encourage new faces? If you live next door to Ely Cathedral, do you have to fork out £5.20 each time you want to enter the church to sit and pray and enjoy that fabulous space?

  Jak_1 22:30 28 Oct 2006

Churches are not as poor as they make out, call me cynical. I suppose with dwindling congregations they have to try and make some dosh somehow! Have to say I always marvel at the architecture of churches etc but not on their beliefs, but that's me. There are a great number of visitors who will leave nothing! I always left something.

  v1asco 22:40 28 Oct 2006

If the admission fee had something with it,e.g. a free pass for life, jam sandwich, brochure or other then fine. Otherwise I think that someone, somewhere,has shot themselves in the foot.

  g0nvs 22:44 28 Oct 2006

Visited Southwell Minster last year, on top of the entrance fee was a charge to take photographs.

  dwaynedibbly 22:55 28 Oct 2006

I visited Ely a few year ago, passing through on a bargeing holiday, and I must say its one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to.
Myself and my family went into Ely Cathedral (at the time free entry) and were treated to a brilliant impromptu choral rehearsal. Which if I had been asked to pay for , I would have quite happily forked out several quid for. It was an unbelievable sound, and experience and immense pleasure to listen to.
And for someone who`s is more used to listening to The Chemical Brothers, I couldn`t believe to this day what I heard.
If, as Mr Blair would have us believe, we are living in one of the most affluent societies in the Western world. Then should we not, as such be prepared to pay , or at least contribute toward such establishments, organisations.
Yes, 5.20 is a lot, in relative terms. But it costs that to go to the cinema. Its all about personal choice and perspective on value.

  IClaudio 23:00 28 Oct 2006

Incidentally, the £5.20 included a Guided Tour (no reduction if you didn't want the Tour). On the web site, there's no mention of the admission fee, but there is a mention of a Guided Tour 'at no extra charge'

bugle, absolutely correct...

  IClaudio 23:26 28 Oct 2006

I've not sung at Ely, but I've been to many other cathedrals (Durham, Norwich, Exeter, Southwell, Carlisle) and while the services are a moving experience (and the reason for us to be there), the rehearsals, strangely enough, are even more of an experience. Because the people listening are just visitors looking round the cathedral, and like you, have probably not been exposed at first hand to such a beautiful sound.

It's an exhilarating feeling to be communicating this wonderful music to people: and such a shame to know that many people are going to be put off even entering the building. As you say, it's worth several quid!

  chocolate cake 01:06 29 Oct 2006

Years ago on a visit to London I attempted to visit Westminster Abbey. I walked away after beig asked for an entry fee of around £10.

This year I took my wife to London for her birthday and, knowing that St Paul's had been free last time I visited London, took her to see Wren's austere pile. The entrance fee £9.00.

Now I don't mind paying a reasonable sum of money for cathedrals and the like if everyone is asked to pay. Ole Dubya though, walks in to see Westminster Abbey last year and did anybody ask that bumbling fool to dip his hand in his pocket? No!

Italian churches, on the whole, are free mind you!

  WhiteTruckMan 01:07 29 Oct 2006

mainly because they were deliberatly designed that way. To awe and inspire the largely illiterate masses. And part of the function of the stained glass windows were to provide biblical and/or religeous inspiration ank knowledge to those who couldnt read the bible. Sort of like cant read the words but can look at the pretty pictures.

For myself, its the architecture of the places that impress me, knowing that they were built without modern equipment and techniques, using just muscle power alone to lug those huge stones and carvings around.


  Forum Editor 01:14 29 Oct 2006

I love cathedrals (although I don't have a religious bone in my body), and like you I once sang (for a short time) in a cathedral choir. I was ten years old at the time, and made my mother weep with my boy-soprano solo on Christmas eve.

My choir experience left me with a love of these fine old buildings, and I too marvel at the dedication and skill of the generations of craftsmen who built them. Ely, Canterbury, and Durham are particular favourites.

Religious considerations apart, our cathedrals are an important part of a rich architectural heritage, and the church shouldn't have to raise maintenance money by imposing entrance fees - there is justification for public expenditure if ever there was one.

I would certainly be as happy to see some of my tax pounds go towards preserving a 1000 year old cathedral as I would to see them spent on a gallery that displayed a young woman's soiled knickers.

"Tracey Emin shows us her own bed, in all its embarrassing glory. Empty booze bottles, fag butts, stained sheets, worn panties: the bloody aftermath of a nervous breakdown. By presenting her bed as art, Tracey Emin shares her most personal space, revealing she’s as insecure and imperfect as the rest of the world."

Really? Give me a stroll along the Nave at Ely any day.

  Apron 05:57 29 Oct 2006

Almost on my doorstep,You can go to the refectory without paying. I sneak a look at that wondrous ceiling to set me up at the same time. Like FE I love churches despite my atheism. What has the church ever given us except music, architecture, literature, costumes, sculpture, painting........
Worshippers do not pay of course and we don't mind treating our guests. Not wanting to pay for anything is a very English trait don't you think? Which cathedral is your favourite? I think Chartres wins it for me.

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