Thinking Anglicans

Cathedral statistics 2015 released

The Church of England has released its Cathedral statistics for 2015. They can be downloaded here. There is the following accompanying press release.

Cathedral statistics 2015 show continued growth
23 September 2016

Attendance at cathedral worship continues to increase with mid-week attendance rising and Sunday attendance stable in 2015, according to the latest Cathedral Statistics, published today. The figures confirm the trend of gradual growth in cathedral attendance noted in the report From Anecdote to Evidence published in 2014.

On average, 36,700 people (adults and children) attended services each week at the 42 cathedrals in England during 2015. This is an increase of 18% from 31,200 in 2005. Midweek attendance increased from 12,700 to 18,900, contributing most of the increase. Attendance at Sunday services has remained generally stable, at around 17,900 in 2015. Numbers on community rolls increased by 5% from 15,100 in 2014 to 15,900 in 2015.

Other regular services, such as fresh expressions and schools services conducted at least once a month and not part of the weekly pattern of services, attracted 471,300. More than 1.1 million people attended 5,310 public/civic events held in cathedrals.

“These figures are extremely encouraging,” said the Very Reverend Dr Pete Wilcox, Dean of Liverpool. “They show that, up and down the country, cathedrals are sustaining the growth that has been reported for a number of years. Clearly, something about cathedral worship is meeting a need and contributing significantly to the spiritual life of the nation.”

Easter and Christmas

Easter 2015, services saw 54,000 attending worship, 2% more than in 2014. There were 28,200 Easter communicants, the highest figure since 2009. Attendance during Holy Week, from Palm Sunday to Good Friday, was 92,500.

Christmas attendance was 125,200 in 2015, the highest figure since 2011. There were 33,100 communicants at Christmas in 2015. Services during Advent, the period leading up to Christmas, attracted an attendance of 824,300 in 2015, the highest figure for the past decade. All events and services from the beginning of Advent to 23 December are captured in the Advent total.

Baptisms, Marriages and Thanksgivings

In 2015, 760 baptisms and 12 thanksgivings were conducted in cathedrals, a number almost unchanged since 2010. Since 2011, the number of infant baptisms in cathedrals has been falling steadily, while the number of baptisms of people over a year of age has steadily increased since 2005.

In the year, 270 marriages and 30 blessings were conducted in cathedrals. The number of funerals has remained stable over the last ten years at 370 with a further 120 memorial services conducted by cathedral clergy; 70 funerals were conducted at crematoria on behalf of cathedrals.

Children and Young People

The number of children and young people attending organised educational events in cathedrals increased by 14% from 280,900 in 2005 to 320,000 in 2015; a further 13,100 children visited Westminster Abbey. More than half of these visits were by children under 11 years old. Cathedral schools or schools formally associated with cathedrals had 12,440 children on their rolls in 2015. Attendance at graduation ceremonies was 264,700 and at other public events such as concerts was 842,400 in 2015.


Cathedral choirs included 1,490 child choristers and 550 lay clerks and choral scholars in 2015. A further 600 children and 1,410 adults were involved in voluntary choirs. The cathedrals have, between them, 40 male, 30 female and 80 mixed cathedral choirs: 790 visiting choirs sang in one service or a week of services and more than 1,140 regular and 620 occasional musicians were involved in services in 2015.


The number of people volunteering at cathedrals rose by 13% from 13,300 in 2005 to 15,000 in 2015. There were 9.4 million visitors to cathedrals in 2015; a further 1 million people visited Westminster Abbey.


Cathedral Statistics 2015 can be read in full here.

The report From Anecdote to Evidence can be read here.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Fr William
5 years ago

Thix ix great news. Let’s fund the cathedrals even more generously, and close down inner urban churches like mine that struggle to heat and maintain, never mind pay the share. After all, the C of E should play to its strengths, ministering to the middle clsses. The people who ring my bell wanting a train fare to a safe house near Euston (I do not exaggerate) can be directed to the Deanery.

Andrew Lightbown
5 years ago

Thank God for or cathedrals; for the traditions they preserve and the innovations they offer in worship.

Turbulent Priest
Turbulent Priest
5 years ago

“These figures are extremely encouraging,” said the Very Reverend Dr Pete Wilcox, Dean of Liverpool. “They show that, up and down the country, cathedrals are sustaining the growth that has been reported for a number of years. Clearly, something about cathedral worship is meeting a need and contributing significantly to the spiritual life of the nation. Well, if you look at the figures, you’ll see that in almost every respect the figures show a steady level of activity over the last decade, which is of course better than the Church of England as a whole. But “sustaining growth” is wishful… Read more »

Anonymous Clergy
Anonymous Clergy
5 years ago

Partly in response to Turbulent Priest: anecdotal, but might contribute something to her/ his understanding. As a cathedral clergyperson, I think some of the factors in cathedral attendance among our regular congregation include: – quality of music and worship – potential to receive rather than participate in worship, particularly but not only Evensong – Links with cathedral developed through involvement in music (as choir parent, member of voluntary choir etc.) or civic event (local councillors who have to attend 3x a year and decide they like it) etc. – sense of cathedral as “haven” from the nastiness (in their experience)… Read more »

5 years ago

Turbulent Priest: “… Or is it simply that Cathedrals are promoting themselves as being similar to parishes? Or that they are providing something special that parishes might well emulate?”

Or even that they ARE parishes? I haven’t done a count but I think that about half of CofE cathedrals are parish churches – the ones that before a fairly recent Cathedrals Measure were lead by a Provost rather than a Dean.

Turbulent Priest
Turbulent Priest
5 years ago

Thank you, anonymous. Exactly my own anecdotal views…and it is good to see them articulated so clearly. The next step is to see whether more rigorous research bears them out (which I hope it would) in order to be a welcome antidote to the view often expressed that it’s only big evangelical churches that grow….because actually there is a lot in your list that could also be emulated by parish churches.

5 years ago

It amazes me how people on TA lose their critical faculties when we get to subjects like cathedrals. All those pompous processions, people desperate to get to the back to show how important they are, worship turned into performance, cathedral canons who have a 9-5 attitude to work, and a narrow or nil vision of what being the mother church of the diocese means. Thousands of pounds charged for school services.

OK, I’m being provocative, but come on everyone, where’s your radical thinking gone….

Tim Chesterton
5 years ago

Anonymous clergy:

‘potential to receive rather than participate in worship’

Um, in order to ‘receive’ worship, don’t you have to be God?

‘sense of cathedral as place where commitment is optional (unlike some local parish churches)’

Also unlike the teaching of Jesus.

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
5 years ago

it is perfectly acceptable not to want to actively participate in singing etc. but listen to a Cathedral Choir instead.

And Jesus said nothing about how we have to express commitment. It does not have to be to church activities to be real. For some people, church is the place where they re-charge their batteries to then go and out and love and serve somewhere else.

Personally, I’m not a great fan of cathedral services. But I do see their attraction and their validity.

Anonymous Clergy
Anonymous Clergy
5 years ago

Tim: apologies if I was unclear – I was using the common opposition between “receive” and “participate”. By receive, I mean being able to use the service as a time of reflection and renewal, rather than a time of activity and bustle. As for commitment being optional being unlike the teaching of Jesus, you are, of course, quite right. Without wishing to begin an argument, and with the proviso that of course I think all Christians should be actively committed both within and outside their congregations, I do think there are many people who come to faith and to commitment… Read more »

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x