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soapdragon

Charging for entrance to cathedrals

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I have thought quite hard about posting this as I mean no offense to anyone (you'll see what I mean when you read through) but it has bothered me quite significantly.

We have just got home from a mini break in West Sussex and visited both Chichester Cathedral and, on the way home, Winchester Cathedral. There was no charge for entrance at Chichester as there was a notice saying that they did not feel it was right to 'charge' but, as it cost xxx amount to run each day would visitors feel able to put some money in the box? We therefore made a reasonable donation thinking that was a very fair and sensible approach to what is, after all, a 'public' space.

However, when we went to Winchester we couldn't walk more than 6 feet into the cathedral without coming up against a payment desk.......£8.50 per adult, children free. We walked out on the basis that we (OH and I) felt that this was little short of blackmail. There wasn't even a side chapel for people to go and say a prayer (should they feel so inclined) without paying up first. This made us feel very uncomfortable although I understand that this is common practice in very many other cathedrals etc nowadays.  I fully understand the money that it costs to run these places but would rather be 'trusted' to make what I feel is an appropriate donation even if that is under the eye of a member of staff.

I know that this may be a contentious issue as peoples beliefs and religious stances are all personal and I have no  wish to 'pry' into those but the two vastly different approaches did make us think. I'd far rather make a donation than be charged to enter what I personally feel should be a space available for all to enjoy from whatever viewpoint they have (religious, historical etc.) Any thoughts, anyone?

 

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I was always taught that Churches, cathedrals etc were a place of sanctuary and therefore anyone and everyone was welcomed, whether rich or poor, black or white and whichever religion. I feel that they should be free with the option to make a donation of you want.

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I would be making a donation too.

On a different note, we went to Bournemouth on the first May Bank Holiday and walked along the pier.

It had an out of date crazy golf course on but not a lot else apart from the view.

On our way back from our holiday in Lyme Regis last week, we stopped at Bournemouth for an ice cream and a walk along the pier with family but the pier had an entrance charge of £1.50 per adult.

We were quite shocked and it said the charge operated from April to October (ish), well, there there was no one there charging when we were there in May. What with expensive car parks I'd have thought Bournemouth made enough money out of those without having to resort to charging for a walk along the pier.

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Hmmm. I'm not sure how I feel about it, to be honest. I'm an atheist, so I can take all religious context out of it. I like going to churches and cathedrals etc. because I like the history and architecture.

I sometimes go to the local cathedral (which is free; donation optional) where I give a few pounds; however, if I were religious and I was charged to access the building, I would probably be a little perturbed. As Ursula, I always viewed these buildings as places of sanctuary for everyone, and should be publicly accessible. All that being said: if it's a case of paying entrance money vs. letting the building going to ruin, I probably would be prepared to pay.

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23 minutes ago, Luvachicken said:

On our way back from our holiday in Lyme Regis last week, we stopped at Bournemouth for an ice cream and a walk along the pier with family but the pier had an entrance charge of £1.50 per adult.

They've started doing that in Weston Super Mare too! I would be prepared to pay, but there's nothing so impressive about it that makes me want to.

Which is an interesting point about churches/cathedrals too. I personally wouldn't be prepared to pay to visit the cathedral in Bristol, but I'd be prepared to pay some amount of money to go to St. Mary Redcliffe church because it's a lot nicer than the cathedral. So if they start charging everywhere, may the best church win! lol

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I'm faithless so I don't mind paying/donating to the upkeep, the buildings, big grand ones and Victorian piers for that matter are our responsibility to a certain extent. I read an article about this once but can't remember the conclusion. I think it made the point that we can't just expect the owners to foot the bill because often they can't and so we can pay entrance fees if we care to keep them. There is a little church near Piccadilly that is a bit shabby and musty but I always donate partly because it is a real and caring sanctuary for homeless people but mainly because it has a lovely bit of Grinling Gibbons that I like to go and stare at and I want that to stay there. 

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Its an interesting Q.  Personally my feeling is that I shouldn't be asked to pay to enter a cathedral or church, it is a place of reflection, prayer and worship, and it angers me that a person has to pay for the privilege of receiving solace.  Therefore I no longer visit the 'great' cathedrals of Canterbury and Westminster, but it has been no great loss.  I much prefer small village churches, finding them full of interesting history and artefacts, as welcome as being more on my 'scale' and therefore tranquil and reassuring in a spiritual way.  I know Chichester cathedral quite well, it is full of interest to me, but when I went through a rough time I called in at Boxgrove Priory, which is nearby, smaller and relatively unknown, it will remain a place of great comfort.

I will happily give a donation, and frequently do.  However, here in Portugal I have been pursued around a church by an indignant Catholic lady demanding a donation.  I am afraid I didn't give one, there is something about the expectation of support which I rebel against. 

I would also take umbrage about paying to go on a pier.  I lived in Brighton for long enough to know that piers are supposed to be free!  Although actually I would pay to go on Hastings Pier, architecturally and as a community hub, its quite inspirational, but I understand the new owner has said he will never charge.

 

 

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I'm with the free entry brigade.

We often visit out of the way places and pop in to random little churches along the way, just to look at the architecture and feel the history. We usually leave a donation in the box for them. If everyone left a small donation I'm sure the revenue would build up, but charging £8.50 is an awful lot, and risks putting off visitors. 

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Presumably the charge for the cathedral is an all year round charge ?

The pier at Bournemouth was only a summer charge which to me is a way of making money out of us.

Surely people walking on it other times cause just as much wear and tear.

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