In a question to the Church Commissioners in the House of Commons today (25th July), Michael Fabricant pointed out that around 50,000 people visit Lichfield during the Lichfield Festival.
Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con): What recent assessment the Church of England has made of the effect of holding festivals in cathedrals on the number of visiting (a) worshippers and (b) non-worshippers.
The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Dame Caroline Spelman): Cathedrals all run a series of events and religious festivals throughout the year, which vary in size, and collectively they host over 11 million visitors a year. Lichfield cathedral, in my hon. Friend’s constituency, is an outstanding example of that and welcomes around 120,000 people a year to its excellent exhibitions.
Michael Fabricant: I am very grateful to my right hon. Friend for her answer. She will know that the Lichfield festival itself attracts over 50,000 people to the city of Lichfield and brings at least 10,000 people into the cathedral itself, so what action is her Department taking to encourage other cathedrals to do similar initiatives?
Dame Caroline Spelman: I find it an interesting idea that I have a Department, but the Church of England will seize the initiative next year; it is a great year for anniversaries in the Church of England, with the Pilgrim Fathers and Thomas à Becket, and it will be a year of cathedrals. The Association of English Cathedrals will provide a pilgrimage passport for those at home and abroad who want to visit as many cathedrals as possible.