Cathedrals – Surviving the Pandemic

23rd September 2020

Wells Cathedral has been awarded £47,000 by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to help it in recovery, Lincoln Cathedral has launched an appeal to raise £1.5m to better secure its future and tickets go on sale next week to see Luke Jerram’s installation of Gaia in Gloucester Cathedral as part of its Beacon of Hope recovery programme. (Gaia pictured here at Liverpool Cathedral).

How your cathedrals are trying to survive the COVID pandemic.

All our cathedrals have been hit by the coronavirus pandemic after they closed their doors on March 23 to save lives and keep people safe.

Since June 15 they have been slowly and safely re-opening where they can, and, like many organisations, are currently in the process of restructuring as they count the cost of the pandemic and look at ways they can begin to recover, support their communities, and adapt to a new normal.

Lincoln Cathedral has launched the ‘Provide, Protect, Preserve’ recovery appeal to raise £1.5million to stabilise finances in the wake of the coronavirus which has taken a huge toll on visitor numbers, events and its pattern of worship.

The Dean, the Very Revd Christine Wilson, said:

“This recovery appeal will ensure that we can provide a sacred space for worship, welcome, hospitality and spiritual nurture, that meets the needs of the community as we all continue to live with the reality of COVID-19.

“It will also help us to protect Lincoln Cathedral’s tradition of choral and musical excellence at a time when the arts are under threat more than ever. In addition, it will allow us to preserve the precious built heritage we have in the Cathedral, and the craftspeople, and professionals whose passion and skill we rely on to sustain the building.

“These aims are integral to the history and story and purpose of this building, meaning that we can continue to work on conservation of the fabric, that we don’t lose our choir, that we can continue to be a beacon to the community and that the doors can be kept open to continue to joyfully proclaim the love of God.”

Between April 1 and July 31 2020, the Cathedral estimates a loss of over £768k from lost visitor admissions, events, donations and commercial activity in its shop and refectory and with ongoing uncertainty and visitor numbers well below usual levels, it expects that figure to grow while its investments have shrunk.

Matthew Tarling, Grants and Data Officer at the Cathedral explained:

“As a charity, unrestricted funds are incredibly important, as they support every aspect of the Cathedral’s activities – including conservation and music. Our heritage, traditions and people are under threat today more than ever before. This is why we need everyone’s help to try and raise £1.5 million in order to minimise the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

To find out more or donate to the appeal visit

Gloucester Cathedral launched its Beacon of Hope appeal in May to raise £1m to ensure it can play a key role in the recovery of its city, county and diocese going forward.

It estimates it stands to lose somewhere in the region of £1.3 million due to the coronavirus, but aims to walk alongside its communities in recovery with a far-reaching collaborative cultural programme of activities which aim to help inspire, promote wellbeing and stimulate economic growth.

Part of this programme will see Luke Jerram’s installation, Gaia suspended in the nave between 13 October and 1 November 2020 and ticket information has just been released.

To allow for physical distancing and to keep everybody safe, the numbers of people visiting Gaia will be restricted.

Lorna Giles, Head of Visitor Experience said:

“Everyone’s wellbeing is very important to us and by following government regulations and industry Covid-19 guidelines we have ensured the building is safe for people to visit. You can rest assured ‘We’re Good to Go” and “Covid Secure”.

To manage numbers, admission is by timed entry only and visitors must book a slot in advance. Each slot is an hour long and the start time you select is the time you can join the queue and the cathedral estimates that if you join the queue within 15 minutes of your start time, they guarantee you will spend at least 30 minutes inside the Cathedral to experience Gaia. A maximum of 6 tickets per individual applies.

Tickets will be available online from 9.30am on Monday 28 September.

Book yours – click here.

The Dean of Gloucester, the Very Revd Stephen Lake said:

“At a time when so many lives have been turned upside down, the Cathedral is stepping up. Rather than wait for things to get better, it is reaching out, to embrace our community and to heal. The Cathedral must continue to be a place of sanctuary, solace and reinvigoration.”

More information on Gaia and the Beacon of Hope campaign visit the Gloucester Cathedral website.

Wells Cathedral has announced it has been awarded £47,000 by the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Emergency Heritage fund which will enable them to start to re-open safely.

After closing for 12 weeks during lockdown, only a handful of staff have worked to ensure socially distanced visits – but
Wells estimates 118,000 people have been unable to visit and the financial impact of Covid-19 has badly affected the cathedral.

They launched the Bounce Back Appeal in June which has already rasied more than £70,000 in donations as well as apply for several grants and introduce spending cuts.

The Dean, the Very Reverend Dr John Davies, said:

“Thanks to the National Lottery and its players we can now bring more of our staff back from furlough, fund equipment needed to safely further open up the Cathedral under the ‘new normal’ and work to re-deploy our army of dedicated volunteers to support visitors.

“All this is vital to re-start income generation and ensure we can safeguard our unique heritage.
“We’re grateful that The National Lottery Heritage Fund is supporting us at this crucial time – it’s a lifeline to us and others who are passionate about sustaining heritage for the benefit of all.”

You can donate to the Wells Cathedral Bounce Back Appeal here.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund made £50million available to provide emergency funding to those most need in the heritage sector. The UK-wide fund aimed to address both immediate emergency actions and help organisations to start thinking about recovery – Truro Cathedral has also announced it has benefited from this fund.

Ros Kerslake, chief executive, said:

“Heritage has an essential role to play in making communities better places to live, supporting economic regeneration and benefiting our personal wellbeing. All of these things are going to be even more important as we emerge from this current crisis.

Every Church of England Cathedral which is able to re-open to the public has achieved the Visit Britain’s industry standard and consumer charter mark We’re Good to Go which means visitors can be confident that cathedrals are taking all the necessary steps to help ensure people’s safety in line with latest Government and Public Health guidance. Please check ahead as opening and service times may have changed, you may have to book a ticketed slot at some cathedrals, face-coverings are mandatory in places of worship unless you are exempt and you will have to sign up to the NHS Test and Trace system.