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St Paul's Cathedral in deep financial trouble without tourist dollars

I'm not sure if you can access this link in the States but it was on the BBC website this morning:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-56997142

Here's a snippet:
St Paul's Cathedral may have to close permanently if more regular funding is not found, bosses have warned.
The world-famous London landmark relies almost entirely on tourist income from ticket sales and has seen its finances devastated by the pandemic.
The building's income dropped by 90% in 2020 as it remained shut. There has been a similar fall so far this year.
Dean of St Paul's, the Very Rev Dr David Ison, said "big decisions" were needed for the historic building.
St Paul's is facing its worst financial crisis in 300 years, according to those who run it.

Many cultural sites and businesses need foreign tourist dollars. Domestic tourism doesn't cut it for lots of businesses/ cultural sites.

Posted by
12605 posts

Looks like it's not the only UK church in deep financial trouble. :O(

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-53538741

Both St Paul's and Westminster entry fees are already pretty high (around $24-$25 U.S. at todays exchange rate) so they might have to add some special offerings at additional cost to try and make up some of the lost revenue?

Posted by
5086 posts

As Kathy says, the St. Paul entry fee is expensive, but I’d say it has been for some time. Going inside many years ago, maybe 15, I don’t recall the exact admission charge, but I remember being surprised how much it was then. I believe that fee was considerably less than $24, so the already high admission cost has risen steadily, and the place must be expensive to maintain.

If it were to permanently close, would it just sit there, empty? Slowly crumbling? The Blitz didn’t destroy St. Paul’s, but will current forces?

Posted by
133 posts

It would make an amazing music venue - the acoustics are unbelievable

Posted by
743 posts

Interesting that York Minster is £12 entrance.
Case of "London prices"

Posted by
1804 posts

perhaps they will revisit a business model that expects tourists to support a church. Shouldn't it be the parishioners?

Posted by
4536 posts

The admission charge to St Pauls in 2000 was £5. If it followed the general increase in prices it would now be around £8.60. It is actually almost exactly double that.

Present day admission is though valid for a whole year after purchase, not just one day. This is done so they can reclaim British income tax that the purchaser has paid (if he/she does that is). However, this does make it look expensive for the one-off visitor.

Just being there may not be enough any more.

Posted by
4884 posts

It’s still free to attend church services there. People pay to go into tourist attractions, so why not here, which is how most people treat it? The maintenance costs are very high.

Many organisations will be struggling financially after the past year and will be re-evaluating their entry criteria. It’s about time that U.K. museums started charging foreign visitors for entry, rather than the U.K. taxpayer footing the bill. I pay to go into museums and galleries when I am abroad.

Posted by
4412 posts

It’s about time that U.K. museums started charging foreign visitors for entry, rather than the U.K. taxpayer footing the bill. I pay to go into museums and galleries when I am abroad.

I agree, I've been saying this for some time. Where else in the world can you visit and have free access to some of the finest museums in the world? With few exceptions you're expected to pay to enter a museum elsewhere.

The problem in enforcing payment for non UK residents is proving eligibility. As the UK does not require a person to carry identification or has a national ID card then it would prove difficult in ascertaining who is a UK resident and who is a foreign tourist.

Posted by
1976 posts

Where else in the world can you visit and have free access to some of the finest museums in the world?

Washington, D.C., the approximately 17 Smithsonian Institute museums, galleries and the zoo are free to everyone: National Gallery of Art, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, US Botanic Garden, National Air & Space Museum, and more.

Posted by
5366 posts

Hmmm...maybe time for creative thinking, perhaps leasing an alcove to Costa Coffee, a Burger King in the Apse, the Bank of England became a nice Pub after all.

Seriously though, closure and ruin are a remote possibility, I suppose if things were dire enough, the Anglican Church would relinquish ownership to the City of London or the National Trust. Tourism will recover, so future prospects are fair.

I always take pause when I hear of travelers balking at entrance fees. I understand cost/value of visit issues and priorities. But, here in Florida - I routinely see people pouring large sums of money into theme parks. I consider museums to be of higher value. I understand that these are two very different experiences. I could see finding space that is of limited value - like a space in the basement being used as an eatery/coffee shop. I believe St. Paul’s does have a cafeteria in the basement. Concerts are great provided that it’s appropriate for such a structure and fans aren’t going to spill beer on the floor or worse.

I saw on YouTube that Buckingham Palace may become a museum. I can easily understand why.

Funding historic sites is always problematic. Examples: Italy and Mexico both have archaeological areas that simply cannot be unearthed due to costs, preservation issues, and conflicts with modern structures and utility.
I do hope St. Paul’s hangs in there. It’s an amazing place for many reasons.

Posted by
4944 posts

Amazing, I remember visiting places like Westminster Abbey when there was no admission fee.

In the past few years, we have visited famous cathedrals in Winchester, Salisbury, York and Durham. I remember paying for tours, but don't remember paying anywhere near that for admission.

Posted by
4412 posts

Where else in the world can you visit and have free access to some of the finest museums in the world?
Washington, D.C., the approximately 17 Smithsonian Institute museums, galleries and the zoo are free to everyone: National Gallery of Art, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, US Botanic Garden, National Air & Space Museum, and more

Which is why I wrote "with few exceptions..."

Posted by
54 posts

Nick, I'm sorry but I take offense to your "sky fairies" comment. Let's at least be respectful of other's religious ideas on this forum. As a Christian who takes my faith and the evidence for it seriously (and who has Muslim friends who take their faith seriously too), it's a bit flippant to suggest that different faith traditions can just switch buildings. I wouldn't want a Muslim mosque to be converted into a church for me, neither would my Muslim friends want a Christian church to be converted into a mosque for them. These buildings are meaningful to those who come to worship there.

The focus of this topic was just to point out that a significant tourist attraction in London is suffering due to the pandemic and I (and I think many others) hope that it can pull through for many years to come!

Posted by
8954 posts

The notion that St Paul's is strictly a tourist site and nobody actually prays there is not based in reality. As a person of faith myself I like to attend religious services in my travels. I enjoy observing the different traditions, music, sermon (if in english) and the tranquil atmosphere. I have been to services at SPs on multiple occasions over the years and there have been hundreds of people in attendance (both mid-week and on Sundays). These were never on holidays like Easter or Christmas. I have no clue what the mix of locals vs out of towners was, but its function as a place of worship is a very real thing.

One of my favorite memories of St. Paul’s is sitting in the choir stalls mid-week (Wednesday?) with my musician husband and getting to sing along with the boy’s choir sitting opposite of us lay people. Great sound in spite of my singing. The locals were very kind and accommodating of us.

I tried hiking up to the cupola. However, I discovered in the whispering dome that I have an irrational fear of heights. My husband was a good sport and helped me get to the staircase. We never made it to the top. (Still on my bucket list to conquer the climb.)

The crypt contains the caskets of Nelson, Wellington, and Sir Alexander Fleming (inventor of penicillin).
Apse has an impressive tribute to the USA in appreciation of our help during WW II. Book of names of soldiers who died, etc..
Great architecture. Great acoustics. History: Charles and Diana wedding, etc..

Posted by
12605 posts

Just to be clear, I didn't mean that I had an issue with an entry fee for the cathedral. Yes, I imagine it's very expensive to maintain, and I'm willing to help cover the cost my own feet and breath add to the general wear-and-tear. It's just that the current price of admission is already high enough that hiking it further to try and cover the shortfall, if that is being considered, wouldn't seem like a viable solution.

The admission charge to St Pauls in 2000 was £5.

Yep, Marco, that's what we'd paid in 2002.

I wonder how the annual passes work? For instance, if UK citizens aren't required to have/carry identification, then I'd guess that IDs aren't checked against the passes? What would prevent tour companies from re-using annual passes for their customers unless they are tied to IDs that are checked? As I recall, that became an issue with the (formerly terrific) Paris Museum Pass, thus the ability to visit the museums as many times as desired during the life of the pass was discontinued.

Posted by
1918 posts

It’s about time that U.K. museums started charging foreign visitors
for entry, rather than the U.K. taxpayer footing the bill. I pay to go
into museums and galleries when I am abroad.

I'm surprised that I didn't have to pay for some of the museums I visited. I've got no problem paying my way. I can't find the link but I was reading a couple of articles about potential government cutbacks that could affect funding for these 'free' museums. Maybe they'll need to charge or at least get more creative about fundraising. But then I read another article about self interest groups protesting when some sponsors such as BP Energy are brought on board. It can't be easy for non-profits.

As for St. Paul's, its website says it costs £10 million/year to run the place, and gets 2 million visitors/year; do the math and hopefully things will work out once things are back to normal.

Posted by
4536 posts

I wonder how the annual passes work? For instance, if UK citizens aren't required to have/carry identification, then I'd guess that IDs aren't checked against the passes?

With St Pauls specifically, the purchaser's name and address are printed onto the annual pass and proof of address may be requested prior to a subsequent entry. How assiduously they police this in practice I don't know.

Posted by
1133 posts

Over the years we've supported various churches and other venues across Europe and the UK at times -- most recently donations sent to Notre Dame in Paris for its rebuilding. I searched the St Paul's website but couldn't find a way to send support other than purchasing items from their onsite store. Does anyone know of a site or a way to send a donation, especially since we're not likely to ever visit St. Paul's in the future (at age 77 we're reluctant to even buy green bananas.... ) :-).