St Paul’s shuts down.

There are few things more sad than locked churches.  A locked cathedral might be one of those sadder things.  I don’t pretend to understand the aims of the Occupy movement – and suspect they are non too sure of them either.  However, those protesters remind us all that money isn’t everything, which is a prophetic, important statement for them to make.  

But as far as I am concerned, most Cathedrals are “locked” most of the time.  I used to travel to London in business from time to time in my former life.  If I was passing, I used to try to call into St Paul’s, or Westminster Abbey, for a few minutes of quiet prayer – an oasis in a busy day.  I was never refused entry.  But I never felt welcome as I was “watched” into the chapels that each place had set aside for prayer, and I was conscious of being “clocked out” as I left.  Heaven forbid that I should have wandered away to appreciate the rest of the building.  The answer was to attend a formal service instead – but I was seldom around at the right time.   

It isn’t just London’s Cathedrals that charge for entry.  Winchester (the Cathedral for my Diocese)  certainly does.  I understand that money has to come from somewhere to run these enormous, wonderful buildings.  But as soon as an entry charge is levied, entry is denied to the poor.  As soon as an entry charge is levied, a request for space to pray becomes “fare dodging”.  As soon as an entry charge is levied, is the Temple become a den of thieves?  

I’m sad about St Paul’s being shut.  I’m even sadder that it makes no difference to me.  


4 responses to “St Paul’s shuts down.

  1. I tend to agree. My Cathedral is Canterbury and you pay to enter the precints unless, like me, you belong to a Parish within the Orbit. Than I and my spouse get a pass at a charge of £1.50, which doesn't expire.

    But even than, I've been asked to leave if some sort of paying event or school educational event is on.

    The Cathedral is a church, the same as any other. If the costs are to high to maintain it as a church, turn it into a museum and build a smaller, more modern, easily maintained Cathedral in the grounds.

  2. Winchester Cathedral (as I hope you know through the Chapliancy you're involved with) is doing it's best to enable those from the parishes of the Diocese to pop-in when they're in the city. To this end, each parish should have six free passes that can be borrowed by anyone of their parish so that they can go in for free – whether to pray or take guests round.

    Unlike some Cathedral's, Winchester receives no support from the state and therefore has no choice but to charge for admission for it's many tourist visitors – many of whom won't take time to pray and treat it purely as a museum.

    From what I've learnt recently, I think it's possible that if these Cathedral's didn't charge then they (and the wonderful ministries of their clergy) would be mothballed both as monuments and as places of worship – and we would all be the poorer for that.

  3. Sorry for belated response, both, I thought I had posted but obviously hadn't.

    UKViewer, your point about suitability of buildings is interesting – and my own congregation has discovered it is cheaper to extend/reorder than it is to knock down and build afresh. I think we get very hung up on our buildings – and that is not to detract from their beauty (posts elsewhere indicate I like Winchester Cathedral!)

    Ramtoprac, the free pass system is allegedly alive and well, although trying to track down who actually has the passes is difficult! I think your underlying (and very valid ) challenge to me is “so what should happen instead?”

    I think the answer depends on what you think a Cathedral is for, so I'm going to start a new thread, because this might get long..

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