Cathedral and Major Church Projects Support Panel

If you had a day or two of free advice from an expert on an issue your cathedral faces, what would you ask them? The Cathedral and Major Church Projects Support Panel offers cathedrals free advice and consultancy from its 60 or so volunteer experts. It aims to help cathedrals at the early stages of projects.  Since its launch in 2017 it has dealt with over 130 requests from cathedrals. Panel expertise includes architecture, conservation, fundraising, heritage interpretation, grant applications, project management, strategic planning, visitor engagement and many more areas. It’s run by the Association of English Cathedrals and funded by the Church Commissioners. Contact Cathedrals Coordinator Anne Locke for more information or to make a request. She will aim to link you up with a suitable expert or team of experts for an initial discussion, possibly followed by a site visit – travel expenses are paid by the project. [email protected] or 07908 472082. Read more about how the panel works: CMCPSP: What to Expect

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Event Capture

Name your event and tell people why they should attend. Use this simple form to let us know about your events and we'll promote it on the AEC website and social media. A guide explaining the below form can be accessed here. You can expect it to be online within 48 hours if it meets our criteria. The AEC is here to raise the profile of all Church of England cathedrals. [gravityform id="2" description="false" ajax="true"]

Cathedral Cycle Champions

This page contains information primarily for Cathedral Cycle Champions. What is a Cathedral Cycle Champion? A briefing paper for champions setting out their suggested role (to be updated; this was produced before the launch of the route in 2021). If you need to contact the Cycle Champions at other cathedrals, please contact Anne Locke. You can also join the CCR WhatsApp group, which is a good way of exchanging queries and ideas. Champions' Checklist
  • Cathedral website - does it have information for those visiting by bike? Does it have your details or someone they can contact?
  • Stamps or stickers - are these readily available to visiting cyclists from the gift shop, cafe or welcome desk? Can vergers or clergy locate them if cyclists turn up for services outside normal visiting times?
  • Pilgrim Passports - can these be easily located and purchased?
  • Awareness - are the cathedral staff, volunteers and clergy all aware of the Cathedrals Cycle Route (CCR)?
  • Champions - has your cathedral appointed a Cathedral Cycle Champion?
  • Drinking water, bike pump - can these be made available?
  • Promotion - can you help promote the CCR, e.g. by developing local circular routes using parts of it?
  • Bike racks - are bike parking facilities available? (see
Cycling UK insurance: as an affiliated organisation the CCR is covered by Cycling UK’s Organisers’ Liability cover for up to £10 million.  The policy will cover cathedral staff, ride leaders, event organisers and other volunteers organising or taking part in cycle events against any claims made against them as a result of their negligence. Read more here. Route changes: please send any comments and proposed improvements to the route to Shaun, ideally as a GPX file (but any sort of annotated map will help). Logos: you can download the CCR logos here. Prayers for CCR cyclists: some prayers can be found here Cyclists may visit at any time, and Cathedral Cycle Champions are encouraged to develop activities around the cycle routes at times to suit their cathedral and community. In 2021 and 2022 the routes were launched and tested with relay rides taking a baton around all 42 Church of England cathedrals. For 2023 cycling activities will be organised locally, some focusing on Cycling Uk's Bike Week, Monday 5 to Sunday 11 June. Sign-up sheet: Peterborough Cathedral has kindly supplied this example of a sign-up sheet you can adapt for the participants in cycling events you may be organising. Cycling risk assessments: Only cathedrals organising rides themselves need to carry out risk assessments.  If your cathedral isn't organising a ride then you don't need to risk-assess the activities of riders using the route. If you are organising a ride and need to do a cycling-related risk assessment, this is one used by the Durham Redstarts cycling group when they visited Newcastle Cathedral, based on the British Cycling one. Cycling UK has guidance here along with a simple editable pdf you can download. NB: these risk assessments should be adapted for the circumstances. For if a section of route hasn't been ridden in advance as the purpose of the ride is to check it out, this itself can be listed as a risk, with the mitigation being keeping group sizes small and warning riders in advance that the route hasn’t been checked. Example of a cycle ride disclaimer (as used on the relay rides): Every rider registered on Eventbrite  was sent this message, which you may find useful to adapt for your own events: Please find below a short disclaimer. Cathedrals may request you to sign and agree to this or a similar disclaimer. The Cathedral teams will try to make the event as safe as is reasonably practicable. However, cycling cannot be risk free and has some potential dangers. Every rider must be responsible for their own safety and judge whether they and their equipment are fit to take part. Disclaimer I understand and agree that I participate in the Cycle Relay event entirely at my own risk, that I must rely on my own ability in dealing with all hazards and that I must ride in a manner which is safe for myself and all others. I understand that the event is held wholly or in part on public or private property or the public highway, that I participate therein at my own risk and that no liability whatsoever shall attach to the property owner or anyone devolving an interest in the property. I am aware that when riding in an event the function of the lead cyclist is only to indicate direction and that I must decide if the movement is safe. I agree that no liability whatsoever shall be attached to the promoting club (The CCR), meeting sponsor(s), AEC, associated cathedral or any official or member of the promoting club in respect of any injury, loss or damage suffered by me in or by reason of the relay event, however caused whether by negligence or otherwise. Finally, we would just like to stress that this event is a ‘trailblazing’ event designed to explore and refine the Cathedral Cycle Route. As a result some routes may potentially encounter unexpected obstacles or hazards. The CCR relay is not a race and the teams along with individual cyclists are encouraged to travel at a leisurely and safe pace for all. We suggest that where cathedrals are organising groups of riders they ask them to sign this or a similar disclaimer before they depart, to ensure you have a record of their agreement and to cover anyone who may not have received the Eventbrite message. There are some useful tips on road safety on the British Cycling site here.  

Cathedrals Cycle Route

If you are interested in finding out more about the Cathedrals Cycle Route as a cyclist you can look at the routes on the Cycling UK website or Komoot These routes are based on a clockwise direction, but the gpx files can be reversed via most route viewers. A Pilgrim Passport might be just what you need to accompany you on your ride and help you record your visits to cathedrals. You can also join the CCR Strava club and record your rides here. To make contact with a cathedral you plan to visit, look in the ‘visit’ section of their website. You can find links to the cathedral websites here. If you'd like some prayers as you cycle the route, here are some. The Independent Hostels Guide is recommending the CCR to its readers and has published a short online guide covering member hostels that are either on the route or close enough to reach via a short cycle. Independent Hostels UK ( IHUK ) is UK’s network of independently owned bunkhouses and hostels. With over 350 members it is the largest hostel network in the United Kingdom. The British Pilgrimage Trust has more maps and resources here. If you are planning to ride the whole route, good luck and please let us know: Shaun Cutler (originator of the route) Anne Locke (coordinator of contacts with cathedrals) Join us on Twitter and Facebook: @cathedralscycle #cathedralscycleroute and Facebook

Pilgrim Passport

Many of us see life as a journey enriched by special people and special places. For hundreds of years, cathedrals have been such places, filled with astonishing beauty, fascinating history, and glorious music, drawing pilgrims of all ages in search of peace, healing and joy. We invite you to use this passport for your own adventure of discovery, following in the footsteps of many thousands of pilgrims who have come to these places over the centuries to learn, to think about their lives, and ask for God’s help and guidance. How to use this passport: Visit a cathedral and ask at the welcome desk or in the shop for a stamp or sticker for your passport. You can use the checklist and pages of the passport to note the names and dates of places you visit, and your experience. You can also use the passport to record your visits to other cathedrals, churches, abbeys, and places of pilgrimage in the British Isles. Many of these places will offer tours, trails and special events for you to enjoy. Copies of the Passport are available from cathedral shops or can be bought online here  

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Privacy Policy

Here at the Association of English Cathedrals, we’re committed to respecting your privacy. This Privacy & Cookies Notice explains when and why we collect personal information about visitors to our website, how we use their information and what we do to protect it. We may update this page from time to time so would encourage you to check it occasionally to ensure that you’re happy with any changes. By using our website, you’re agreeing to be bound by this Privacy & Cookies Notice. Any questions regarding our Privacy & Cookies Notice and approach to protecting your rights as a website user should be sent by email to [email protected].

How do we collect information from you?

We obtain information about you when you use our website, submit your details through our contact form or join our forum as a member.

What type of information is collected from you?

The information we collect might include your name, email address, telephone number, IP address and information about what website pages are accessed and when. When our members request access to our private forum, we will collect your name and email address and provide you with a unique login to access and use the forum.

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We may use your information to:
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We review our retention periods for personal information on a regular basis and will hold your details on our systems for as long as is necessary to continue communicating with you, or until you request to be removed from our contact database.

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You have a choice about whether or not you wish to receive information from us. We will not contact you for marketing purposes by email, phone or text message unless you have given your prior consent or are a cathedral who is registered with us.

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The accuracy of your information is important to the Association of English Cathedrals. If you change email address, or any of the other information we hold is inaccurate or out of date, please email us at [email protected]. You have the right to ask for a copy of the information the Association of English Cathedrals holds about you. We will provide this information to you electronically within a 30 day period. You can find out more about your rights as a data subject at the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) website.

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Like many other websites, the Association of English Cathedrals website uses cookies. Cookies are small pieces of information sent by an organisation to your computer and stored on your hard drive to allow that website to recognise you when you visit. They collect statistical data about your browsing actions and patterns and do not identify you as an individual. For example, we use cookies to improve our website and deliver a better experience.

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A cookie is a small file placed on your device that allows websites to recognise that a user on an individual computer has previously visited the site. The cookies save some information about that user for when they access the site again in the future. By using and browsing the Association of English Cathedrals website, you consent to cookies being used in accordance with our Privacy & Cookies Policy. If you do not consent, you must turn off cookies or refrain from using the site.

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Under the GDPR (2018) you have the right to complain about the way we process your data. You can complain to us directly via [email protected] If you would like to take your complaint further, you are also able to complain directly to the ICO who will contact us on your behalf.

Review of this Privacy & Cookies Notice

We keep this Privacy & Cookies Notice under regular review. It was last updated on 23 November 2018.

Jobs and volunteering opportunities

Cathedral and Major Churches Projects Support Panel The Association of English Cathedrals would like to hear from those with an interest in cathedrals and major churches and the time and relevant specialist skills and experience to serve as volunteer expert members on the Cathedral and Major Churches Projects Support Panel, a partnership between the AEC and the Association of Major Churches. Serving on the Support Panel will offer a unique opportunity to help cathedrals and major churches resolve their challenges by assisting with scoping out projects and identifying project elements, pointing out potential problem areas and recommending how to overcome them, sharing wisdom, experience and contacts, giving advice and support to cathedral staff, and advising on the need for specialist advice and input when appropriate. The role of a Panel member is voluntary but reasonable expenses will be paid. The Benefact Trust and Church Commissioners have provided funding for the project. Expressions of interest are invited from competent and experienced specialists with skills and experience that could assist cathedrals to devise realistic projects. More information is available here. The Panel’s terms of reference are available here. To express interest please send a CV and covering letter (no more than two sides of A4) indicating your relevant area of expertise and experience. All submissions should be emailed as PDF or Word documents to Anne Locke, the Panel Coordinator. Expressions of interest are welcome at any point, as we continue to build the Panel’s numbers and range of expertise.   Job vacancies The AEC has no vacancies at the moment. Details of opportunities at cathedrals and within the Church of England are advertised on cathedral websites and on the Church of England website.

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Non-Anglican cathedrals

Churches of other denominations also have cathedrals.  The largest group of cathedrals which are not part of the Church of England are Roman Catholic cathedrals.  Information about these cathedrals, together with information about the dioceses they serve, can be found on the website of the Catholic Church in England and Wales Bishops' Conference - available here.

Chapter Training

The AEC’s Chapter Induction training sessions are primarily for those without previous cathedral experience - new members of cathedral Chapters, lay and ordained, newly appointed administrators/COO/CFOs, new residentiary canons and deans. With reference to the Cathedrals Measure 2021, the training may also be relevant for Chairs of new advisory bodies, Senior Non-executive Members, Chairs of Nomination Committees and Chairs and newly appointed members of any governance committee of Chapter. The one-day sessions each cover the same content and include presentations, small discussion groups and Q & A sessions. They are arranged to take place in various locations during the year so that they are reasonably accessible. The training includes input from a number of speakers from different cathedrals – both ordained and lay – and from the CFCE and NCIs. It includes reflection upon the legal and financial responsibilities of Chapters as charity trustees, the relationship of Chapter to the rest of the cathedral, fabric and property matters and the role of cathedrals as centres of worship and mission. Booking is now open for the 2024 sessions:
  • Tuesday 5 March 2024 at Sheffield Cathedral. The session will begin with coffee at 10.30am and end by 4.00pm. Cost £70, to include a buffet lunch. This is fully booked. Please get in touch if you would like to join a waiting list.
  • Saturday 11 May 2024 at Southwark Cathedral. The session will begin with coffee at 10.30am and end by 4.00pm. Cost £70, to include a buffet lunch. This is fully booked. Please get in touch if you would like to join a waiting list.
  • Tuesday 15-Wednesday 16 October 2024 at the Royal Foundation of St Katharine, London E14 8DS. The 24-hour residential session will begin with dinner at 6.30pm on 15 October and end at 4.00pm on 16 October. Cost £265, to include dinner, overnight accommodation, breakfast and lunch. Once the residential places are taken, there may be options to attend just on day 2, or to attend the evening session on day 1 and the day 2 session (without accommodation). Please contact us for details.
In order for the sessions to be viable, we are setting a minimum number of 10 for all the sessions. Please book places in good time as once the courses are full no further bookings will be taken, although names can be added to a waiting list. The programme has been developed and refined over a number of years and delegates who attended recent sessions provided the following comments in their feedback: ‘An excellent course – fascinating, practical and very informative’ ‘A timely induction 3-4 months into the role’ ‘Very well put-together, good, engaging presentations’ The training programme is co-ordinated by a project board, chaired by The Very Revd Simon Cowling, Dean of Wakefield. Bookings should be made to the AEC Administration Officer: Susan Chapman Email Telephone: 07930 690273

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines heritage as ‘our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations’. It sees both our cultural and natural heritage as irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration. Places as unique and diverse as the wilds of East Africa’s Serengeti, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Baroque cathedrals of Latin America make up our world’s heritage. World Heritage sites belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located. UNESCO seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. This is embodied in an international treaty, the ‘Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage’, adopted by UNESCO in 1972. UNESCO's World Heritage mission is to:
  • encourage countries to sign the World Heritage Convention and to ensure the protection of their natural and cultural heritage;
  • encourage States Parties to the Convention to nominate sites within their national territory for inclusion on the World Heritage List;
  • encourage States Parties to establish management plans and set up reporting systems on the state of conservation of their World Heritage sites;
  • help States Parties safeguard World Heritage properties by providing technical assistance and professional training;
  • provide emergency assistance for World Heritage sites in immediate danger;
  • support States Parties' public awareness-building activities for World Heritage conservation;
  • encourage participation of the local population in the preservation of their cultural and natural heritage;
  • encourage international cooperation in the conservation of our world's cultural and natural heritage.
The United Kingdom is a signatory to the World Heritage Convention, and UNESCO has designated 29 sites in the United Kingdom as World Heritage Sites. Of these, 18 are in England and include Canterbury and Durham Cathedrals and Westminster Abbey. The Canterbury World Heritage Site includes St Martin's Church, which is the oldest church in England, the ruined St Augustine's Abbey, which was also founded during the early stages of the introduction of Christianity to the Anglo-Saxons, and Canterbury Cathedral, a stunning Romanesque and Gothic building which is the Mother Church not just of the Church of England but the worldwide Anglican Communion. The Durham World Heritage Site includes Durham Cathedral, which is the ‘largest and finest’ example of Norman architecture in England and whose vaulting was part of the advent of Gothic architecture, and Durham Castle, a Norman building which was once the residence of the Durham prince-bishops and is now the home of University College, Durham University. The Cathedral houses relics of St Cuthbert and Bede. The Westminster World Heritage Site includes the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey and Saint Margaret's Church. These buildings have been the centre of the administration of England since the 11th century, and later of the United Kingdom. The Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Parliament, is an example of Gothic Revival architecture but its origins are far older and Westminster Hall, part of the Palace complex, was built in 1097. Since the coronation of William the Conqueror, all English and British monarchs have been crowned at Westminster Abbey. St Margaret's Church, adjacent to the Abbey, is the Palace's parish church. In addition, Salisbury and Lincoln both have their Magna Cartas and Hereford has its Mappa Mundi on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.

Cathedral and diocese

The cathedral, as the seat of the bishop, is the mother Church of a diocese, the area under the bishop’s supervision.  Many diocesan services and events, such as ordinations, confirmations and services to mark major festivals, are held at the cathedral and members of churches within the diocese come to the cathedral to attend such services and to gather together.

Cathedral and Bishop

The name ‘cathedral’ is derived from the Latin word ‘cathedra’ which means ‘chair’. A church which contains the official chair, seat or throne of a bishop is called a cathedral. When a new bishop takes up his or her duties, he or she is enthroned during a service in the cathedral church. The relationship between bishops and their cathedrals is a close one. The Cathedrals Measure 1999 states that ‘The bishop shall have the principal seat and dignity in the cathedral’. The bishop, after consultation with the Chapter and subject to any provision in the Statutes of the cathedral, may officiate in the cathedral and use it in his work of teaching and mission, for ordinations and synods and for other diocesan occasions and purposes. The diocesan bishop is Visitor to his or her cathedral. The role of Visitor, in English law, is to oversee an autonomous ecclesiastical or charitable institution and, if necessary, to intervene in its internal affairs. As Visitor, the bishop hears and determines questions about the Constitution and Statutes. He or she may also hold a Visitation of the cathedral when he or she considers it desirable or necessary to do so, or when requested by the Council or the Chapter. A Visitation gives the bishop the opportunity to enquire into cathedral affairs and, as a result, may give directions to the Chapter or to cathedral staff which he or she considers will better enable observance of the Constitution and Statutes. The bishop can attend and speak at meetings of the Cathedral Council. Bishops and Chapters often consult each other and seek advice.

Support cathedrals

Cathedrals welcome support, both financial and through volunteering. For more information about how to support individual cathedrals, please visit their websites (see the Cathedrals page). Cathedrals are also supported by their Friends organisations. These can be contacted through cathedral websites. The English Cathedrals Fund (charity no. 1148698) exists to support the conservation, repair and development of cathedrals of the Church of England, the contents of such cathedrals, and their precincts. Its trustees are also members of the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England and use their extensive knowledge of cathedrals and their buildings in order to focus funds where they are most needed. All cathedrals are able to apply for grants for major fabric repairs from this fund which administered by the Cathedral and Church Buildings Division of the Archbishops’ Council, part of the Church of England. To make a donation, please click on this link, or to discuss ways of supporting cathedrals please contact Becky Clark, Director, Cathedral and Church Buildings Division (020 7898 1887).

Support Us

Cathedrals welcome support, both financial and through volunteering. For more information about how to support individual cathedrals, please visit their websites (see the Cathedrals page). Cathedrals are also supported by their Friends organisations. These can be contacted through cathedral websites. The English Cathedrals Fund (charity no. 1148698) exists to support the conservation, repair and development of cathedrals of the Church of England, the contents of such cathedrals, and their precincts. Its trustees are also members of the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England and use their extensive knowledge of cathedrals and their buildings in order to focus funds where they are most needed. All cathedrals are able to apply for grants for major fabric repairs from this fund which administered by the Cathedral and Church Buildings Division of the Archbishops’ Council, part of the Church of England. To make a donation, please click on this link, or to discuss ways of supporting cathedrals please contact Becky Clark, Director, Cathedral and Church Buildings Division (020 7898 1887).

How is it administered?

Since 1999, cathedrals have been governed in accordance with the Cathedrals Measure passed that year. The Measure states the purpose of cathedrals and specifies how they are to be governed, creating three new bodies which together form the body corporate of a cathedral – the Chapter, Council and College of Canons. Until the Cathedrals Measure 1999 came into effect, there were two types of cathedrals, Dean and Chapter Cathedrals and Parish Church Cathedrals. The Measure removed this distinction and all cathedrals are constituted in the same way. Cathedrals are run by their Chapters, which have the task of administering the affairs of the cathedral. Chapters are formed of both clergy and lay people, who act as fiduciaries and manage the cathedrals’ affairs. The composition of the Chapter varies from cathedral to cathedral but the Dean and all Residentiary Canons are members, as are a number of other people whose numbers and methods of appointment are specified in a cathedral’s governing documents, known as its Constitution and Statutes. The Chapter is chaired by the Dean. The Council of each cathedral meets at least twice a year to further and support the work of the cathedral and advise the Chapter. Its membership is again specified in the Constitution and Statutes. The Council is chaired by a lay person who is appointed by the diocesan bishop, and the bishop can attend and speak at the Council although he is not a member. The College of Canons consists of the Dean and Residentiary Canons, suffragan bishops, archdeacons and honorary and lay canons. The College meets at least once a year to consider cathedral affairs. It also has the task of electing a new bishop in accordance with the Appointment of Bishops Act 1533. Cathedrals as charities Cathedrals are ecclesiastical corporations.  Corporations are Common Law entities which exist independent of their members. As such they:
  • exist in perpetuity;
  • can act as if they were a person so can, for example, sue or be sued in their corporate name;
  • can buy and sell lands and hold them for the benefit of the members of the corporation and their successors;
  • have a common seal which is used to confirm their actions;
  • can make by-laws or statutes for the regulation of their own affairs; and
  • because of the need to supervise corporate acts, have a Visitor.
Cathedrals are corporations aggregate established for spiritual purposes. Cathedrals have a charitable purpose as defined in the Cathedrals Measure 1999 S1: ‘Any person or body on whom functions are conferred by or under this Measure shall, in exercising those functions, have due regard to the fact that the cathedral is the seat of the bishop and a centre of worship and mission’. The Charities Act 2011 (S10) excludes ecclesiastical corporations from the Act. Cathedrals are not regulated by the Charity Commissioners in respect of their main activities but are regulated by their Visitors (the Cathedrals Measure 1999 makes the diocesan bishop the Visitor of his cathedral). Cathedrals are not ‘exempt’ or ‘excepted’ charities, as these are subject to the Charities Act. Cathedrals qualify as charities for taxation purposes; Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs treats cathedrals as exempt charities and enables them to recover sums under Gift Aid.  

How is it financed?

Each cathedral is responsible for its own finances.  Cathedrals are independent from the central institutions of the Church of England and from dioceses. Cathedrals raise the funds necessary for them to fulfil their role as places of worship and mission (involving maintaining their buildings, supporting those in liturgical roles, clergy, musicians and lay staff, and enabling the cathedral buildings to be open to all every day of the year) from a variety of sources.  These include:
  • congregational giving,
  • legacies,
  • income from visitors,
  • sums generated by trading activities,
  • income from investments and property (for those cathedrals with such assets),
  • monies donated in response to appeals and fundraising activity, and
  • grants from the Church Commissioners.  The Church Commissioners pay the stipends of three clergy at each cathedral and pay grants for employment costs of lay staff to cathedrals depending on need – those cathedrals with the lowest income from other sources receive most.  Royal Peculiars do not receive any grant funding from the Church Commissioners.
Cathedrals benefit from the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme run by the Government, which gives cathedrals an amount equivalent to the irrecoverable VAT paid on repairs and approved alterations to the cathedral church.

Cathedral Measures

The Cathedrals Measure 1999 and the Care of Cathedrals Measure 2011 are the two principal pieces of legislation which govern cathedrals.  A new measure, the Cathedrals Measure 2021, has received Royal Assent.  Over a period of a few years from 2021, cathedrals will register as charities with the Charity Commission and will then be governed by the new Measure.

Royal Peculiars

A Royal Peculiar is a church that belongs directly to the monarch and not to any diocese, and does not come under the jurisdiction of a bishop. The concept originated in Anglo-Saxon times and developed as a result of the relationship between the Norman and Plantagenet Kings and the English Church. Henry VIII retained Royal Peculiars following the Reformation; the Ecclesiastical Licences Act of 1533, as confirmed by the Act of Supremacy of 1559, transferred to the Sovereign the jurisdiction which had previously been exercised by the Pope. There are a number of Royal Peculiars of which Westminster Abbey (the Collegiate Church of St Peter, Westminster) and St George’s Chapel, Windsor (the Queen’s Free Chapel of St George in Windsor Castle) are the best known. Others include the Chapels Royal at Hampton Court and St James Palace, the Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy, the Chapels of St Peter ad Vincula and St John the Evangelist in the Tower of London and the Royal Foundation of St Katharine. The Ecclesiastical Household is administered in the Lord Chamberlain’s Office at Buckingham Palace.

Liturgy Listings

This will link to the liturgy and music group listing.

What is a cathedral?

What is a cathedral? What is the difference between a church and a cathedral? And what is the definition of cathedral.  (More of your cathedral related Frequently Asked Questions here). A cathedral is the seat of the bishop and a centre of worship and mission. The primary purpose of a cathedral is to be a place of Christian worship but it is also often the oldest building in continuous use in its surrounding area and of significance to the heritage, culture and community life of the area it serves.
  • Cathedrals are the mother churches of their dioceses and act as focal points for services and celebrations for those worshipping in churches throughout the diocese.
  • 38 out of 42 cathedrals are Grade I listed. Cathedrals are the oldest buildings in continuous use in their environments. They are complicated both archaeologically and architecturally. They are unique and priceless heritage assets.
  • Cathedrals are open 365 days a year. They are open in times of national crisis and celebration and act as focal points in their communities. They provide unthreatening spiritual spaces for people.
  • Cathedrals are often the largest buildings available for public use for some distance and act as venues for concerts, lectures, degree ceremonies and other such events.
  • The cathedrals of England make a significant contribution to the life of the nation. Their social and economic impact was shown in research conducted in 2014. This showed that cathedrals were responsible for direct visitor-related spend of £125 million and for a total spend of £220 million, significant economic outcomes for the surrounding areas.
  • Cathedrals offer facilities for visits by schools. Most cathedrals employ education officers who work within national curriculum guidelines to provide tours, trails and workshops which supplement classroom learning. The topics covered relate to religious education and history but also to a wide variety of other subjects – cathedrals are immensely rich learning resources.
  • Cathedrals also offer opportunities for adult learning, providing guided tours for groups and openings to develop skills through volunteering. Very significant numbers of volunteers assist in keeping cathedrals open for the public to enjoy.
  • Cathedrals are the main sustainers of the English Choral tradition, running choirs involving adults and children, both boys and girls. The English Choral tradition is a unique part of English culture but one which has suffered decline in recent years as choirs in parish churches have become less common. Cathedrals maintain the tradition and produce music of very high standard week in, week out. For those participating, cathedral music is a unique educational experience; singing as part of a professional team develops many transferable skills. The majority of cathedrals now have girls’ choirs as well as the more traditional boys’ choirs.
  • Cathedral workshops employ a large proportion of the nation’s craftsmen with conservation skills, including stonemasons, carpenters, and stained glass specialists. Cathedrals have a very significant role in ensuring the continuity of conservation skills and in educating new craftsmen. Cathedrals work with both English Heritage and the National Skills Council to ensure that there are training opportunities for those interested in careers in conservation.
Now you know what a cathedral is, why not find out about each of them in our Cathedral A - Z by clicking here >

Cathedral Links

The Ecclesiastical Insurance Group website contains information and advice which is of interest to cathedrals Spiritual Capital: The Present and Future of English Cathedrals - the report produced by the Grubb Institute and Theos is available to download from the Theos website Information on how to apply for grants under the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme has been updated to reflect the latest changes to the Scheme The Wolfson Foundation has launched a new website which provides the opportunity for on-line grant applications as well as giving information about all funding programmes and activities  

Executive Director

Sarah King has been the Executive Director (formerly AEC Co-ordinator) since 2005.  She is also the Company Secretary.  Sarah was the Administrator at Southwark Cathedral from 1996 to 2005, a time which saw considerable change as the Cathedral undertook a Millennium building project and responded to the growth in activity on Bankside and the South Bank of the Thames more generally. Prior to that, Sarah worked for Lloyd’s of London, Thomas Cook, in banking operations for HSBC, and as a management consultant for Deloitte Haskins and Sells, the firm with which she qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1983.

Executive Members

The AEC’s Executive Committee has 12 members.  Nine are elected by the member cathedrals, of which no fewer than four must be deans and no fewer than four must be other Chapter members, whether lay or ordained.  At least three members have to come from each of the Northern and Southern Provinces.  There are three ex-officio members, the Chair of the Deans’ Conference and the Chair and another member of the Executive Committee of the Cathedrals’ Administration and Finance Association.



This section of the website contains information relevant to cathedrals, including downloadable documents and links to other websites.

About us

The Association of English Cathedrals (AEC) was formed in 1990 as an unincorporated association to represent the interests of English Anglican Cathedrals in negotiations with English Heritage about a Cathedrals Grant Scheme. Over the years, its role has expanded and now includes all aspects of better equipping cathedrals, including:
  • promoting the role of cathedrals in national and church life;
  • liaising with the Church of England central bodies;
  • liaising with government departments and agencies;
  • liaising with national ecumenical bodies such as the Churches Legislation Advisory Service;
  • encouraging sharing of best practice and other information between members;
  • issuing guidance on issues affecting cathedrals;
  • organising (where appropriate with other organisations) conferences to explore various aspects of cathedral ministry, community engagement, education work and fabric issues;
  • providing training to members of cathedral Chapters; and
  • conducting research to assist in promoting the national role of cathedrals and to provide information for decision making at a local level so that cathedrals can engage better with their communities.
In response to this increasing role, the AEC was registered as a company limited by guarantee and a charity in 2009. The members of the company are the 42 Anglican cathedrals; St George’s Chapel, Windsor, Westminster Abbey, Cathedral Isle of Man and St Davids Cathedral are associate members. You can download our latest AEC brochure here. The AEC’s activities are overseen by a Board of Directors and Trustees (known as the Executive Committee) elected by the members. The Executive meets on six occasions each year. Executive members have responsibility for various areas of activity (education, visitors and volunteers, training, media relations, liturgy and music, adult learning etc.) and undertake work in these areas throughout the year. The AEC employs a part-time Executive Director who supports the Executive and works with the Executive members in all aspects of their responsibilities, as well as working with member cathedrals by encouraging networking, facilitating exchanges of information and issuing best practice guidance. By doing this work centrally and disseminating the results, cathedrals are better able to use their resources.


AEC – Home Page