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Cathedral attendance statistics enjoy over a decade of growth

Posted on: April 4, 2012 11:53 AM
Related Categories: England

Attendance levels at regular weekly services in Church of England cathedrals have steadily increased by 30% since the turn of millennium, a growth of approximately 3% on average each year, according to the latest statistics, published today. In 2011, figures for ‘average normal midweek attendance' were at their highest levels since records began in 2000 for both adults and children; the figure for Sunday attendance was up slightly, too, for adults.

There is more good news in the figures for Christmas and Easter attendance, both showing stability across the decade, with Christmas attendance up 17% in 2011 compared with 2010. 

The statistics are published online at: 

Dr Bev Botting, Head of Research and Statistics, said: “These figures demonstrate how cathedrals are very much a vibrant centre of spiritual life in our cathedral cities.” 

The Very Revd Vivienne Faull, Dean of Leicester and chair of the Association of English Cathedrals, said: “Cathedrals are wonderful places in which to worship and fascinating places to visit – and all are invited to join us as we mark Holy Week and Easter with special services.” 

Sunday and total weekly attendance 

Sunday services in Cathedrals are usually attended by 15,900 adults and 2,200 children and young people. Including those who only attend midweek services, the total attendance figures rise to 28,000 and 6,800 respectively. Westminster Abbey adds, on average, 2,000 people each week to these numbers. 

Cathedrals are key places of daily Christian worship outside Sundays, and Midweek attendance continues to be very significant, the statistics reveal. In 2011, those attending just midweek services increased total attendance levels by 92%, adding an additional 76% to the number of adult attenders and more than doubling the number of children over the whole week. 

Easter and Christmas 2011 

In 2011, approximately 129,100 people attended services in cathedrals on either or both Christmas Day and Christmas Eve while services over Advent, the period leading up to Christmas, attracted attendances of 776,400. This is an increase of over 17% compared to 2010 and is probably due, at least in part, to good weather and Christmas day falling on a Sunday. Attendance at Easter 2011 was 47,900, slightly higher than the previous year. Many cathedrals have been offering additional services to respond to the space restrictions that continue to limit attendance levels. Westminster Abbey adds over 8,000 adults, children and young people to Christmas Day/Eve attendance and more than 29,000 over the Advent season.

Comparable figures from parish churches are currently being collected and collated. 


In 2011, approximately 740 baptisms (and thanksgivings for the birth of a child), 330 marriages (and blessings of marriage), 340 funerals and 90 memorial services were conducted by cathedral clergy. The number of baptisms of young people and adults (over 13 years of age) and of child baptisms (aged 1 to 12 years) have increased by about one third over the decade, whilst the number of baptisms of babies under one year of age remained broadly stable. As a result, overall, the number of baptisms in cathedrals has increased by 9% over the decade. 

Educational events

In 2011, 286,450 children attended educational events at cathedral, a reduction of 1% compared to 2010, with Westminster Abbey adding a further 11,770. In addition, a further 9,720 children are being educated at schools associated with cathedrals. Over 2,000 of these children and adults are involved week by week in providing cathedral music. In addition, 850 children (under 16 years of age) are involved in singing in other Cathedral choirs and 1,360 are voluntary choir members. 

Volunteers and visitors 

Over the last 10 years the number of volunteers involved in the mission and ministry of cathedrals on a regular basis has increased by 24% to 14,500, an average of 345 volunteers for every cathedral (down slightly on the high point in 2009 when there were 15,040 volunteers). In contrast, over the last 10 years, the number of visitors reported has gradually reduced by approximately 1.9 million to 9,520,980, that is, around 44,900 for every cathedral. With the addition of Westminster Abbey and other Royal Peculiars and, given the imprecise nature of visitor counting, the estimated total number of visitors to cathedrals remains at the 2010 level of 12 million. 

The statistics and associated graphs are available in full at