Thinking Anglicans

Cathedral Statistics 2020

The Church of England has published its Cathedral Statistics 2020. They were accompanied by the press release below. The Church Times has this report.

‘Cathedrals are at the heart of Covid recovery’ says lead Dean
18/03/2022

The Chair of England’s Cathedral Deans has called on all who value cathedrals to visit them and assist their recovery in the aftermath of Covid-19, as data from 2020 are published.

The Dean of Leicester, David Monteith, who Chairs the Church of England’s College of Cathedral Deans, was speaking as data from the height of Covid-19 restrictions was published, showing an expected fall in visitors and on-site worshippers.

“The simple message for everyone is ‘come and visit your cathedrals!'” he said.

“Cathedrals across the country are working hard to welcome back more visitors and worshippers and the picture has improved in the time since this data was gathered, but It remains a challenging environment not least because of current utility cost increases.

“Cathedrals and churches are here to support their communities including people who are still struggling following Covid-19, and as focal points for prayer and reflection and action in light of world events including the war in Ukraine.

“Local people have supported their cathedrals throughout, and we are grateful for the emergency grant funding which the Government and Church have provided, but this has now ended.

“Cathedrals serve congregations and wider communities through worship, heritage, education and civic events.

“They are landmarks which characterise our regions and are testaments to faith and witness across the centuries. We are committed – with the help of all who visit, worship, and value them, to ensuring they continue long into the future. We exist for God’s glory, for all the peoples of England and for those who join us from further afield.”

He was speaking as the Church of England published Cathedrals data from 2020, and – separately – the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) published visitor numbers from 2021, showing a 57 per cent reduction across all attractions, with St Pauls Cathedral and Westminster Abbey both named in the report.

The Church of England’s Cathedrals Data from 2020 showed a 64 per cent reduction between 2019 and 2020 in on-site worshippers throughout the week, largely owing to the Government’s closure of buildings for much of the year.

The data also showed that cathedrals stepped up to the challenge of providing worship and support remotely during the pandemic, through an increase in reaching congregations via online, telephone, email and postal means. By October 2020, when most buildings had reopened for worship, online services were still being offered in the vast majority of cathedrals, many of which continue to the present.

Cathedrals have now streamed thousands of online services to people around the world, while elsewhere the Church of England’s national online services have been seen more than 16 million times since the start of the pandemic, with many more services broadcast by local churches.

In recent weeks cathedrals have become the focus of prayer vigils and community gatherings following the invasion of Ukraine, with many lighting up in the colours of the Ukrainian flag.

Cathedrals will also host services and prayer events for the National Day of Reflection on March 23, marking two years since the first Covid-19 lockdown in England.

A 2021 study by the economic research agency Ecorys showed that cathedrals attracted over 9.5 million tourist or leisure visitors in 2019, an increase of 15 per cent on the 2014 total of 8.2 million.

The additional expenditure generated by these visitors was estimated to be £128 million in the local economies concerned which, combined with employment, resulted in a total of approximately £235 million in local spending per year.

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Stanley Monkhouse
1 month ago

“Cathedrals are at the heart of Covid recovery”. What does this mean? That without cathedrals there would be no Covid recovery? That’s what the words mean to me.

I have resolved to try to be less critical of the institutional church (though the resolution is tested almost daily), but, as with pronouncements of the House of Bishops, there is an inexorable slide to newspeak, or Humpty Dumpty land, in which words no longer mean what they once meant.

Who do “they” think they’re fooling? I know – themselves.

Anyway, what Covid recovery. No evidence of it round here.

Bernard Silverman
1 month ago

Of course all the statistics related to attendance show precipitous decline.

But it is curious that the number of children in cathedral schools has increased dramatically, by 40% in the secondary age group, and 22% in primary. I haven’t found any explanation of this. Have I missed it, or can someone explain?

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Bernard Silverman
1 month ago

It is odd, but it seems to me that there has been a trend for cathedral schools to become rather more than schools for choirboys/girls. For example, Christ Church has 154, St Paul’s has 260 and Salisbury has 193: these numbers are very much greater than are necessary to sustain a cathedral choir (which I suppose must be around about 100). In some cases this increase might be caused by the addition of girls over the last 30 years. However, I suspect that it is also a function of their having to become very much more commercial, and to have… Read more »

Bernard Silverman
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

Thanks for your (as ever) perceptive comments. However, there seems to be a dramatic change not easily explained by the longer-term factors you discuss. For example, the number of students in the age group KS3/4 (11-16) has gone up from 13,900 to 17,500. I don’t think this can be ascribed to the (opaquely described) imputation for missing data, but suggests a significant number of schools being brought under the “cathedral” umbrella between 2019 and 2020.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Bernard Silverman
1 month ago

Many thanks for that. Unfortunately, I am struggling to account for such a large spike in the numbers over such a short period. There seems to be nothing available online to warrant that increase, and perhaps it is a question which can be answered by diocesan boards of education. If the authorities are unable or unwilling to provide supporting evidence for such an anomaly it does raise questions about their wider methodology. On a wider point, the Treasury made £40m available to Anglican and RC cathedrals in 2015, and I daresay that cash has now been spent. At the time… Read more »

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Bernard Silverman
1 month ago

I suggest it could be explained by the imputation.The 13,900 is the number actually reported in 2019. The 17,500 is all those which reported in 2020, plus an imputed value for those which reported in 2019 but not 2020. So the 13,900 includes a figure for each school actually reporting in 2019. The 17,500 includes figures for all these schools, plus it includes additional figures for those schools which only reported in 2020. That is, if there were any. So the 2020 figure may simply be due to counting more schools. The imputation method is not necessarily the cause. It… Read more »

Bernard Silverman
Reply to  T Pott
1 month ago

The principle behind any imputation method is to try to minimise the effect of missing data, by filling in the gaps in a sensible way. So it should make data more comparable not less. However, what seems to have happened—as far as I can tell—is that there’s some sort of imputation to fill in gaps in the 2020 data, but no corresponding calculation to use the 2020 data to fill in gaps in the 2019. TP, do you agree? Whatever is the case, the factor of 40% that is quoted in the table on page 15 for KS3/4 students should… Read more »

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Bernard Silverman
1 month ago

Yes, I agree that gaps in 2020 have been filled and those in 2019 have not. Regarding the girl musicians I wondered if one cathedral had disbanded an orchestra while a very small number of others had one or two musicians, perhaps assistant organists. However I can’t quite get that to work out so I suppose your theory of a missing minus seems most likely. In the past I have been very impressed with the output from the church statisticians, though less so with the way it has been spun by the PR side. I hope this is simply an… Read more »

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