Attendances soar at Peterborough Cathedral
Statistics published by the Church of England show that England’s cathedrals have witnessed their highest Easter congregation numbers in recent years, while visitor numbers increased by a million on the previous year.
The figures from Peterborough Cathedral reflect this upward trend, with a 29 per cent increase in attendance at services on Easter Eve and Easter Day in 2018 compared with the previous year. Likewise Peterborough Cathedral’s visitor numbers increased in 2017 and 2018, largely thanks to the numbers attracted to see the exhibition of Tim Peake’s Spacecraft, presented by Samsung and Science Museum Group, between August and November 2018.
In 2020 the Cathedral will host the Natural History Museum’s touring exhibition T. rex: The Killer Question, from July 20 to August 31. The exhibition was produced and developed by The Natural History Museum, London, and poses the monster question: Was T. rex a ferocious hunter or a merescavenger?
The Very Revd Chris Dalliston, Dean of Peterborough, said: “We continue to look for new ways of ensuring that this is a place where people from all walks of life feel welcome. It was wonderful to see so many visitors when we hosted exhibitions like Tim Peake’s Spacecraft and Luke Jerram’s moon and earth artworks and at the same time to explore some of the wider themes those exhibitions addressed. I have no doubt that some of these visitors went on to attend Christmas services, where numbers were also up on the previous year.
“At the heart of our welcome is the love of God, which is for everyone regardless of who they are or where they come from.”
The Cathedral hosts large numbers of children on school visits as part of its lively education programme. It also offers scores of volunteering opportunities in all kinds of different roles, and has a team of well over 350 volunteers carrying out essential tasks to keep the Cathedral running smoothly.
Next year, 2020, will see new pilgrimage routes to cathedrals opened-up as part of Year of Pilgrimage, a project in collaboration between the British Pilgrimage Trust and the Association of English Cathedrals. The initiative will ensure there is a one-day pilgrimage route for every Church of England Cathedral, in addition to a group of six new trails in the north east. A route from St Kyneburgha’s Church in Castor to
Peterborough Cathedral will be part of this project.
Adrian Dorber, Dean of Lichfield and Chair of the Association of English Cathedrals, described the latest statistics at pleasing, but warned against complacency: “We continue to try and find ways that offer spiritual nurture and hospitality to people who have never had much contact with the Church or with organised religion,” he said. “There is a place for a creative interpretation of big events and anniversaries - whether that’s the Armistice, Easter, Advent or the Moon Landing - and by opening up our great sacred spaces for such encounters, it opens up opportunities for new conversations and new dialogues; it welcomes, it challenges, it engages our communities and allows us to reach new audiences and that says something about cathedrals being a place for all, and a place for fresh encounter.”