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Letter: Cost of cathedrals

Sir: I have recently - not for the first time - been involved in a campaign to raise funds for the maintenance of one of this country's priceless heritage of glorious cathedrals - Peterborough. This has brought home to me the frailty of the system on which the preservation of the most important collection of buildings in this country is founded.

Were our cathedrals ruins they would be scrupulously maintained by the state. As it is, each cathedral is the sole charge of its dean and chapter, meagrely funded in relation to the scale of their responsibilities.

Much greater resources should be made readily available to them to ensure the upkeep of these irreplaceable national treasures. It should not be necessary for deans and chapters to expend their energies on fund-raising campaigns, nor for cathedrals to charge for admission, or to commercialise themselves as "tourist attractions". It should not be necessary for us to go cap in hand to the National Lottery to help to raise a small part of our needs, when other examples of heritage or the arts receive tens of millions of pounds at the drop of a hat.

I recommend the establishment of a National Cathedrals Trust, adequately funded by state and lottery, on which cathedrals can draw for their survival. A small part of the effort we have put into raising our pounds 7.3m could have put together an unshakeable claim for at least that amount, had there been a fund to which we could have applied.


Peterborough, Cambridgeshire