Thinking Anglicans

Cathedrals Count

English Heritage today published a new report, Heritage Counts 2004. (The report has its own comprehensive and accessible website, but be warned that the main English Heritage website is unfriendly to many browsers.)

This report, which covers the entire range of historic monuments, includes new research on English cathedrals. The English Heritage announcement says:

New data on cathedrals are a social and economic asset

Heritage Counts 2004 contains the first comprehensive data showing the social and economic benefits that cathedrals have been able to deliver to surrounding communities. The research, based on a questionnaire sent to all 42 English Anglican cathedrals, demonstrates that cathedrals are directly responsible for generating local spending of £91 million a year. When indirect economic effects are considered, such as the amount spent by cathedrals to procure local services, the total annual economic impact rises to £150 million. This supports 5,500 permanent full time jobs.

The Heritage Counts website contains the entire text of the report (as a series of PDF files), and also the research reports to which reference is made. These include The Economic and Social Impacts of Cathedrals (report by Ecotec for English Heritage and the Association of English Cathedrals) which can be downloaded as a Microsoft Word file here (the document is 70 pages of A4, about 20,000 words).

The Church of England has today published a press release entitled Cathedrals Count. Here is the beginning of it.

– Thought-provoking new research reveals the economic and social value of England’s Anglican cathedrals –

New research has revealed that nearly nine million people visited England’s Anglican cathedrals in 2003 – two million more than visited Blackpool Pleasure Beach, five million more than went on the London Eye and almost twice as many as visited the British Museum in the same year. This is just one of many compelling findings in a report on the value of England’s cathedrals which is launched today (15 December 2004) as part of Heritage Counts, an annual audit of the historic environment carried out by English Heritage on behalf of the sector.

The research, which was commissioned jointly by English Heritage and the Association of English Cathedrals, provides the first comprehensive evidence of the substantial economic and social contribution made by cathedrals in their local communities. Cathedrals are first and foremost places of worship, and well recognised as places of great spirituality and beauty, but until now little consideration has been given to the boost that their presence gives to the local economy and the range of opportunities they offer for education, events and volunteering.

Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: “Our cathedrals are at the very heart of England’s heritage and, as this new study shows, their contribution reaches far beyond bricks and mortar. In an increasingly complex world, these great edifices are vital forces for social cohesion and focal points for both celebration and mourning, not just in their cities, but in the large areas they serve.”

The Very Revd Colin Slee, Dean of Southwark and a member of the Association of English Cathedrals Executive, said: “We welcome this report which is published during our busiest time of the year! It underlines the key role played by England’s 42 Anglican cathedrals in the nation’s life. It shows the enormous economic benefit that English cathedrals provide for society – in addition to their vital spiritual and community role.

“In fact, more detailed research by the Church of England – which includes, for example, Westminster Abbey – indicates that across all the cathedrals in England the number of visits in 2003 was as high as 12.5 million.”

More of the release

Some additional data not included in the press release itself is below the fold.


The Economic and Social Impacts of Cathedrals in England was joint-funded by English Heritage and the Association of English Cathedrals.

The study was carried out by ECOTEC Research and Consulting Limited between February and June 2004. It is based primarily on a postal survey which was distributed to all 42 Anglican cathedrals (not including Westminster Abbey). The survey was designed to collect both quantitative and qualitative information. An overall response rate of 90% was achieved.

The survey was followed by in-depth case studies based on a representative selection of eight cathedrals (Canterbury, Chelmsford, Chichester, Guildford, Lichfield, Lincoln, Liverpool and York).

Three of England’s top five historic ‘visitor attractions’ – York Minister, Canterbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey – are places of worship.

Further data on visitors to cathedrals from 2004 should be available early in 2005 from returns made to the Archbishops’ Council.

A VisitBritain report Visitor Attraction Trends England 2003 shows that in 2003 6.2 million people visited Blackpool Pleasure Beach, 3.7 million people visited the London Eye and 4.5 million visited the British Museum.

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