Year of Cathedrals – Exeter and York Minster

15th July 2020

Exeter Cathedral and York Minster – Unofficial Saint, Official Visitor Numbers.

2 of the 45 reasons (at least) why 2020 is Year of Cathedrals, Year of Pilgrimage.

York Minster saw record visitor numbers in 2019, according to figures released by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) today (Wednesday 15 July).

The cathedral welcomed 706,484 people to worship and explore the sacred space last year – up 2% on 2018 and its best visitor numbers on record since it introduced new recording practices in 2011.

It is thought the bumper visitor numbers in 2019 were due to a combination of the Northern Lights sound and light shows which attracted 22,500 people, and the completion of the Great East Window in 2018.

The news means the cathedral is now placed at number 53 in ALVA’s annual survey of its UK members’ visitor numbers, and comes as the Minster reopened its doors to sightseeing visitors this weekend for the first time since 16 March.

The Right Reverend Dr Jonathan Frost, Dean of York, said:

“Hospitality is at the heart of our life together at York Minster. We were delighted to welcome so many people from nearby and from around the globe in 2019 – our best visitor numbers on recent record.

“Although 2020 will look very different, we’re pleased to have reopened and are beginning to see old and new friends return. There are a thousand reasons to visit York Minster – all of them valid. Those making the journey to this magnificent sacred space will be made most welcome.”

For further details about the cathedral’s opening times and its safety measures to keep people safe, or to book tickets, visit

Today Exeter Cathedral marks the 600th anniversary of Edmund Lacy – bishop, visionary – and – if it had not been for the reformation when all shrines were destroyed – very possibly saint.

Bishop Lacy was much loved in his lifetime and for many years after his death in 1455 pilgrims came to his tomb to pray and seek his blessing, leaving votive figures of human and animal parts. Like the one pictured below.

Bishop Lacy – the Unofficial Medieval Saint Bishop of Exeter

Over a thousand fragments of these votive figures were found in 1943 during the inspection of the Cathedral for war damage following the bombing in 1942.

Working with the Exeter University Digital Humanities department, the nine largest fragments have been photographed and will be available as 3D models in the future.

Just one model of a woman praying is completed so far and to mark today’s 600th anniversary of his announcement as Bishop of Exeter, she will go on display in a small cabinet specially commissioned to house the models by the side of his tomb in the north quire aisle of the Cathedral.

Find out more about the Year of Cathedrals and Year of Pilgrimage.