How are our Cathedrals Funded?

22nd January 2024

Listen back – the funding debate.

Great to hear two of our cathedral Deans on BBC R4’s Sunday Show open up the conversation around how our cathedrals are funded.

Charging Cathedrals. How are our Cathedrals funded?

Listen again, click here. (7 mins in)

The Cathedrals of the Church of England receive limited funding from the church and government and rely on donations, legacies and grants as well as the income they can generate for themselves – and yet they include UNESCO World Heritage sites, many are Grade 1 listed, and they are home to the tombs of kings, queens and princes and hold the shrines of saints.

Our cathedrals also care for some of the country’s richest and most unique treasures from the Mappa Mundi and copies of the Magna Carta to ancient texts and other treasures and are at the heart of the nation at times of national sorrow or national celebration demonstrated by the number of people who flocked to cathedrals when Queen Elizabeth II died and for the Coronation of King Charles III.

It costs cathedrals like Canterbury and York Minster around £30k a day to run while smaller parish church cathedrals cost around £1.8k a day.

Nine cathedrals of the 42 Anglican cathedrals plus the two Royal Peculiars of Westminster Abbey and St George’s Chapel, Windsor, charge an entrance fee. These fees range from £7.50 to £29 and are determined locally.

All cathedrals are free to enter for services, for prayer and to light candles – and some of the nine that charge are free for entry to their local community or offer a discounted rate.

The Very Revd Jo Kelly-Moore, who chairs the Association of English Cathedrals and is the Dean of St Albans, home to the shrine of Britain’s first saint and martyr, said:

“Our cathedrals hold so much of the social, religious and political history of our country while always being open and free for worship, solace, prayer and hope. 

“This openness and invitation is at the heart of our mission and ministry and one of the reasons cathedrals are bucking the trend in the Church of England.

“Some of us manage to do this without charging, but we all have to build an economy around us to be sustainable. 

Here in St Albans, it costs £6,000 a day to run, and yet we commit to offering people creative encounters with God through being open to visit every day, through daily services, the arts and other special events.

“And any revenue we do make has to be ploughed back into the cathedral to fund worship and mission, care and restoration of the fabric, visitor operations, outreach and the staff needed to run the building,’ she added.

How are cathedrals funded?

Photo – Toby Shepheard

St Albans is currently hosting Peace Doves – an art installation by Peter Walker Sculptor, in which thousands of paper doves hang down from the Cathedral tower. There is a wide programme of events under the doves including worship, peace doves at night, poetry, yoga, concerts and performances. Until 12 February.

More about Peace Doves here.