UK churches should be publicly funded as ‘tourist attractions’

UK churches should be publicly funded as ‘tourist attractions’ October 6, 2019

REPORTS like this – and there are a hell of a more like them showing fewer and fewer Brits are attending church – are no excuse for simply shuttering the things and leaving them for bats to enjoy in peace.

On the day I learned that a town called Eumundi in increasingly godless Australia has closed its last remaining church, I read in Christian Today that the UK National Churches Trust (NCT) has come up with a cunning plan to screw more money out of the public purse to keep struggling churches open and in good repair.

Image via YouTube

The idea, according to NTC’s Claire Walker, above, is to install digital counters in English and Welsh churches in a bid to show that many more people attend churches than the statistics indicate. The counters will help the NTC to go cap in hand to the authorities for more dosh. Said Walker:

We know that millions of people visit parish churches each year, but although data on the number of people going to church services is available, there is no accurate recording of other visitors.

Our Great Church Visitor Count project will help churches in a number of ways. Accurate visitor numbers will help support grant applications from churches for repairs to funders such as the National Heritage Lottery Fund.

The project will also help provide hard evidence to local authorities and tourist boards that churches attract many people interested in history and heritage and should be a central part of their tourism offer.

Forty digital counters are to be installed in the buildings in the hopes of providing the first reliable data on the total number of people who visit not only for services but at other times as tourists attend public events like exhibitions or concerts.

The NCT said that unlike cathedrals, museums and historic houses, there was no reliable data on the number of people who visit churches each year.

Much of the current data, it said, relates to service attendance or entries recorded in visitor books.

The NCT believes that these figures “seriously underestimate” the actual number of people passing through the doors of churches and chapels each week.

So far, ten counters have already been installed at St Peter, Heversham, Cumbria; St James, Jacobstowe, Devon; St Matthews, Skegness, Lincolnshire; St Mary, Lydiard Tregoze, Wiltshire; and St Augustines, Hedon, Yorkshire.

Another 30 counters will be put in place in churches and chapels in Wales and Herefordshire before the end of the year.

The NCT is asking more churches that are not part of the project to consider installing their own digital counters to provide a fuller picture of visitor numbers. Said Walker:

We urge all churches that already have digital counters in their building to get in touch with us and join in this initiative and for more to install these devices, which cost less than £200. The more churches that can supply accurate visitor data, the more we can show just how extensively these buildings are being visited and how important they are.

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  • kaydenpat

    You don’t have to shutter the churches and leave them to rot. They can be sold and revamped for other purposes. I assume that will be the norm as church attendance continues to decline throughout Western Europe,

  • Götterdämmerung

    Non religious people visit churches for architectural interest or to view church records when doing ancestry research, so I expect the godbots are going to include these people to falsely bolster the numbers of believers. Also, the CofE has obscene wealth that could be used to keep these places open or turn them into houses.

  • Jim Jones

    Treat them as community centers. De-christianize them.

  • larry parker

    Don’t forget to count the postal worker and the person who services the furnace.

  • koseighty

    Dear Churches,

    If your church is such a hot tourist attraction, put in a little ticket booth and charge admission. No need to run to the government for help.

    Yours truly,

  • koseighty

    P.S. Please exit through the gift shop.

  • Erik1986

    I was going to say they’d probably get a high count at places like Tintern Abbey and Glastonbury, but I don’t think counting tourists is quite honest….

  • Freethinker

    Private For Profit Amusement Parks.

    That pretty much summarizes churches and other places of superstitious worship.

    No taxpayer funds should ever be used to support these archaic, mental illness inducing enterprises under any circumstances.

  • Jennny

    I don’t quite understand how this works. For centuries, the UK’s parish churches were left unlocked for folk to use for private prayer etc. Then thefts of valuable antique items and lead from roofs became common, so now they are locked and barred. Cathedrals and Abbeys etc can have rotas of volunteers to show visitors round, but the thousands of small village parish churches, dying causes can’t do that. Mine in rural Wales has the most beautiful Arts and Crafts Movement stained glass and woodwork, and a congregation of less than 20. I used to do a shift on the one day a year we did an ‘Open House’, but we hardly got a flood of visitors…I also wonder what will happen when it closes – as it surely will – and becomes a house or flats – to the unique, architecturally important stained glass etc. . As Gottterdammerung says, the CofE will tell you it’s hard up, but it’s worth millions and millions.

  • Broga

    Study the “Lourdes Trash for Profit” and learn from that.

  • Kit Hadley-Day

    if tax payer money is to be used for these buildings it should be used in the form of grants to convert them into something more useful. Maintaining big empty buildings, often in prime locations, is a waste of everyone’s time and money, convert them into shops, or proper civic centers. Repurpose them into government offices i don’t care, but giving money to them because they are non viable businesses is just stupid.

    Also both the catholic church and the C of E are incredibly wealthy, why can they not maintain their own buildings?

  • Barry Duke

    Around 20 years ago, when I was dealing in art deco furniture and other items from the 20s and 30s, I had to deliver – in my big white van – several purchases made by a couple in London. I was given the street name, and No 1 St John’s. I drove up and down the street for 10 minutes and could not find a house at No 1. Instead I just kept passing a bloody big church with no street number. Finally, I called a number I was given, and the customer said “we’re in the church!”.

    Turned out that her husband, an architect, had converted the building into a luxury home, retaining all the original outside features, including some amazing stained glass details, while the inside was done out in full art deco style. This is not the one, but it’s remarkable close to the property I visited:

    A snip at just $15-million!

  • johnsoncatman

    My first thought was that those running the churches would simply abuse the counters thereby falsifying the numbers. Of course, christians would NEVER lie.

  • Anri

    The poor CoE.
    They used to be one of the most important societal influences in the world’s largest empire.
    Now they’re… well, not much.

    Of course, the fact that I understand and even sympathize with their delusions of relevance doesn’t mean they should be encouraged.

  • Raymond Metcalfe

    There is a church here in Newport Ilse of Wight that is now a pub it looks nice inside and is very popular a good use of an old building. The bad news its a witherspoons pub

  • Barry Duke

    “They used to be one of the most important societal influences in the world’s largest empire.”

    Lumbering Commonwealth countries and other parts of the world with biblically-inspired laws against, for example, homosexuality, was NOT an important societal influence. Neither was infesting these countries with missionaries, who destroyed cultures which, in many ways, were superior to their own.

    “When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said ‘Let us pray.’ We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land” – Desmond Tutu.

  • Anri

    I’m sorry if I was unclear – I didn’t mean they were an influence for good, just influential.

    I sympathize with their sense of loss of importance – and am hugely happy they have lost it. They should, IMHO, continue the path towards impotent obscurity.

    Again, my apologies if it sounded like I am a fan of the CoE. I assure you I am not.

  • BlueSurgeon

    Personally, I love visiting old country churches in England. I like the peace and quiet, the architecture and the stained glass windows, the little biblical scenes made by the local children, etc. I read the medieval inscriptions revealed under ancient plaster walls.
    The gravestones in the churchyard tell of the sorrow of the loss of a loved one, sadness in every step I take. I try to understand why these long dead folk believed their god was watching their every move and why he needed constant praise for allowing his faithful to die in agony.
    I always leave a couple of pounds in the donations box as I leave but at the same time I don’t believe a word of anything praising what I believe is mythical brain-washing.
    I think “Why doesn’t their god stop the decay and rot in his own house?” From God’s smallest church to his mightiest cathedrals he still needs a lightning rod, just how powerful is this God who cannot protect his own houses?