Importance of Our Cathedrals

Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England), December 11, 2008 | Go to article overview

Importance of Our Cathedrals


Byline: Joe Riley

TOMORROW, hundreds of readers will join myself and special guest Ken Dodd for the ECHO's carol concert in Liverpool Cathedral. Lest we take it for granted, this is no ordinary cathedral. It is the fifth largest in the world, and the largest in the UK: big enough for St Paul's Cathedral in London to fit inside.

More to the point, in these cash-strapped times, it costs pounds 4,000 a day to run. That's pounds 1.46m a year - with no day off for Christmas.

A former dean, Edward Patey, used to joke that all of Britain's medieval cathedrals were designed to fall down in the 20th century. But the gargantuan appeals that have saved the likes of Worcester, Gloucester, Hereford, Wells and a host of other favourites from disintegration, are just as relevant to Liverpool Cathedral.

By the time of its completion in 1978, the east end, begun in 1904, needed urgent attention and re-pointing. The next big challenge is maintenance of the roof.

But unlike in France, for instance, where the state or city pays all these costs, British cathedrals are left to fend for themselves.

And cathedrals - worldwide - just devour money.

This week, the incomplete St John the Divine, New York, ranking fourth biggest, was re-opened after a pounds 28m restoration, And in Spain, there are calls for a halt on building Antoni Gaudi's Sagrada Familia (Sacred Family) cathedral in Barcelona because of soaring costs and a "profane pursuit of tourism. …

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