Should BMW event have been allowed in Peterborough Cathedral?

One of the BMWs entering the Cathedral last night
One of the BMWs entering the Cathedral last night
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A controversial BMW launch event held at Peterborough Cathedral last night has been met with mixed reviews by the city’s residents.

The latest BMW 5 series and MINI Countryman were unveiled in the 900 year old nave at an event last night, Thursday February 9.

While some were happy to see the space being utilised many felt it was inappropriate to use the Cathedral for such commercial purposes.

Greg Briers told the Peterborough Telegraph: “Ok, have the event, but driving cars into an ancient building that already suffered a major fire in the past, how are they allowed to take fuelled up vehicles inside this most revered of buildings, and what about rubber scuffing from the tyres on ancient flagstones. This is a place of worship not a car showroom.”

Claire Lupin wrote on the Cathedral’s Facebook page: “I know the cathedral will benefit greatly from the money they receive for this but its rather gross. Have you considered sponsorship? Coca cola maybe? Or a subway in the cloisters?”

Naomi Baciu added: “I went to the Cathedral today and was really shocked and saddened to see the cars in there. It made me think of when Jesus’s overturned the tables on the tax collectors outside the synagogues. As for thinking more people will go into the cathedral, I made a very quick exit as I felt it was so wrong.”

However,many people also supported the Cathedral, which replied to the criticism with a statement saying: “This is about welcoming people. Large numbers of guests will be here this evening and some of these will be people who would never otherwise set foot in the building (anyone can register to attend).

“They can enjoy this beautiful, sacred space, maybe go on a tower tour and hear the Cathedral Choir sing, as well as look at the cars. We hope they have a very enjoyable evening and leave wanting to come back again soon.”

Canon Jonathan Baker, Acting Dean of Peterborough, said: “Peterborough Cathedral has always been a place where people have come to celebrate and we are delighted to welcome Sycamore Peterborough Ltd and their clients for this special occasion. We hope to share something of the magnificence of the Cathedral and its heritage with them whilst they are here and wish them a very successful evening.”

Jonathan Hanley commented on Facebook: “Cathedrals should be looking forwards and be engaging in different ways with modern communities, rather than being stuffy old museums. #”This is not only good for the cathedral bank balance, but brings loads of people into the building that might never visit. The naves of cathedrals would’ve originally been full of livestock, not necessarily the sanctified places we see them as.

“They are and must be living buildings if they are to survive.”

Andrew Robinson added: “I’m very pleased to see Cathedrals (and local churches) engaging with their communities and welcoming people and businesses from around the area into their buildings.

“As has already been pointed out ‘the nave’ would have been used for many purposes when the cathedral was built. I only wish more churches were as forward thinking and enabling by loosing fixed furnishing from the Nave to enable our churches to be multi-functional and large spaces where a community can gather.

“Our church buildings are places of encounter and welcome both with people and hopefully with God. However people first come to cross the threshold of our buildings we must be welcoming, open and engaging.”

Carl Morris, Head of Business at Sycamore BMW Peterborough Ltd, said: “We feel privileged to be able to use Peterborough Cathedral for the launch. Combining the historical architecture of the Cathedral with the modern architecture of our brands will be an event in itself. A beautiful venue such as the Cathedral seems to be the only place to reveal our new products.”