On 4th July 2013 Sir Tony Baldry MP answered written questions on the issues of church closure and of entry fees into church buildings
Rehman Chishti: To ask the honourable Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps the Church Commissioners are taking to keep churches that are faced with closure open for worship and for the community.
Sir Tony Baldry: I refer my hon. friend to the answer I gave in writing on 24 June 2013.
I would also like to add to that answer—since 2007 the Church of England has opened an average of 10 new churches every year. There are also an increasing number of ‘fresh expressions’ churches being set up in other buildings and public spaces, such as pubs, skate parks, community centres, etc. which are not covered by the figures above.
Church Entry Fees
Dr Offord: To ask the hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, what recent assessment the Church Commissioners have made of the cost to visitors of accessing religious buildings.
Sir Tony Baldry: Of the 42 Diocese in England (excluding Sodor and Man and Europe) only nine cathedrals charge an entry fee. Chester Cathedral has just abolished all entry charges. Unlike the national museums none of the Church of England’s cathedral or church buildings receive grant in aid from the Government.
All cathedrals which charge for entry give free access to those attending services (of which there are a number every day of the week) and to those who arrive on pilgrimage or wish to pray, some give free entry on Sundays and at other times, generally early in the morning or late in the afternoon, and others give free entry to local residents or church attenders in their Dioceses.
Only two of the great parish churches charge entry fees or a modest charge to enter part of the church. They are St Bartholomew’s the Great in London Diocese and Holy Trinity Church, Stratford upon Avon in Coventry diocese, the resting place of William Shakespeare.
Both the churches and cathedrals resort to charging primarily to recover the cost of repairing the fabric of the building due to the large volume of tourist visitors they receive.
The English Cathedrals and Royal Peculiars that currently charge for entry as of June 2013 are:
Canterbury, Coventry, Ely, Exeter, Lincoln, Christ Church, Oxford (to enter college), St George’s Chapel, Windsor (to enter castle)(1),St Paul’s,Westminster Abbey(1), Winchester, York Minster
(1) Royal Peculiar
Via: Parliament UK
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