Praise for St Albans Cathedral

St Albans Abbey, west front

St Albans Abbey, west front - Credit: Archant

St Albans Cathedral has been held up as an example of how the Anglican church can buck the trend of declining congregations and lack of relevance.

An article by journalist Simon Jenkins, a former chairman of the National Trust, examines the predicament of medieval churches in England, 2,000 of which have fewer than 10 worshippers and 8,000 barely able to muster 20.

But while churches struggle, cathedrals have boomed in the 21st century and one of those he singles out for praise is St Albans.

From declining in the same way as churches in the last century, cathedral numbers have risen in the 21st century. Attendances at services has grown by almost a third in a decade and there has been a boom in tourist visitors. Revenues have doubled in the past decade and fundraising has proved an invariable success.

In the article, Mr Jenkins describes St Albans Cathedral as a ‘one-stop shop to rival the local High Street’. and most of the praise he heaps on other cathedrals in the country applies in the city.

Like Canterbury, which he singles out for holding degree ceremonies for the University of Kent, St Albans Cathedral hosts University of Herts degree ceremonies. It also holds events such as a catwalk show during St Albans Fashion Week, rock concerts - Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent from The Zombies are appearing next Friday, October 21 - exhibitions and recitals.

There is also a cathedral quarter around which events are held like the St Albans Christmas Market.

Most Read

Mr Jenkins points to think tank figures that show that a sixth of atheists and a quarter of lapsed Christians still visit cathedrals. He believes it is because, like castles, cathedrals are the great memorials to the nation’s past.

He adds: “The two dozen pre-Reformation survivors are, to me, the most beautiful things the English ever created. They are museums of medieval architecture, art, sculpture, stained glass and woodwork beyond compare. Filled with sunlight and music at the end of the day, they offer an irresistible experience.”

The Rev Peter Crumpler, curate at St Leonard’s Church, Sandridge, commented: “It’s good to see a leading commentator and expert on church buildings recognising the Abbey’s achievements.

“The Cathedral has long been a renowned centre of Christian worship, and teaching for all ages. In recent years, it has also become a vibrant focus of community life and host of all kinds of music and arts events. The Cathedral opens its arms to welcome everyone and is a major asset to the city.”

He added: “It also brings in many extra visitors for the city’s shops and businesses and is a massive asset for tourism.”