All of the positive points I have mentioned are dependent on the Christian faith on which they are founded. Centuries of prayer, pilgrim age (especially to the more ancient cathedrals eg the Cathedral and Abbey church of St Albans) are steeped in the rhythm of daily offices. Prayer and worship, that have echoed through the chapels and crypts and been absorbed into the stones, are the very life-blood of our cathedrals.
The pre-Reformation cathedrals such as Durham and Canterbury are majestic buildings rising and dominating their respective cities. They command a presence and it's impossible not to be awe-inspired by the way they were built at all and survived to add blessing to all who enter them.
In contrast, our own Oxford Cathedral (Christ Church), the smallest of all, and built in the time of Henry VIII as a college chapel, is unique as the only college chapel in the world that serves as a cathedral.
The modern 20th century cathedral of Coventry, built alongside the ruins of St Michael's church which was bombed in 1940, is known for its work for peace and reconciliation. Each and every one of the 42 Anglican cathedrals of England has a story to tell and a place at the centre of English life.
Built on faith
Do you have a favourite cathedral? Ancient or modern, renowned for soaring columns and vaulted ceilings, stained glass or wall paintings, our entire rich heritage is represented and built upon the faith that withstands all time. Enjoy them and make sure you add a new one to your list of visits.
ENGLISH CATHEDRALS by Rev Dilys
At a time when the news seems to be filled with stories of church decline, empty pews and buildings that are unsustainable or cost huge amounts of money to maintain, our wonderful English cathedrals are experiencing just the opposite, in terms of interest and attendance. Attendances arc well up, not just of tourists but of worshippers on a regular basis. Why might this be?
There are the obvious attractive reasons, such as worshipping in beautiful buildings with superb architectural features, sublime music and a sense of liturgical continuance. Cathedral choirs, often with their own schools, are unique. They produce some of the finest offerings of sacred music in the world and the tradition is being maintained by the young choristers of today.
No tax help
Of course, cathedrals are not exempt from the financial burdens that beset the building trusts which have responsibility for our precious cathedrals. Unlike some of our neighbouring countries, there is no tax raised to support the buildings and monuments of the Church of England. The cathedrals are required to fund their own individual buildings and on-going running costs themselves.
In the news just recently, Guildford Cathedral is struggling to maintain its fabric -- and that is a relatively modern (post war) building. Other cathedrals have and continue to resort to appeals and various other ways of raising money.
Cathedrals offer so much more than being a visitor attraction. They are central to our religious heritage and the life of the cities that they represent. Community-based projects of all kinds are housed in cathedrals.
They provide space and wonderful acoustics for concerts and drama productions. Art and sculpture installations are proving to be especially successful. Schools for all age groups are welcomed to open-days, commemoration services and historical exhibitions, and the wealth of activities that take place are what give them the vibrancy that we know and love.