Peterborough Cathedral echoes national trends for Cathedral attendance

Thursday 28 November

Statistics published by the Church of England this week (26th November 2019) show that England’s cathedrals have witnessed their highest Easter congregation numbers in recent years, while visitor numbers increased by a million on the previous year.

The figures from Peterborough Cathedral reflect this upward trend, with a 29% increase in attendance at services on Easter Eve and Easter Day in 2018 compared with the previous year. Likewise Peterborough Cathedral’s visitor numbers increased by 30% between 2017 and 2018, largely thanks to the numbers attracted to see the exhibition of Tim Peake’s Spacecraft, presented by Samsung and Science Museum Group, between August and November 2018.

Alongside its role as a centre of Christian mission and ministry in the Diocese of Peterborough, the Cathedral hosts numerous events attended by large numbers of people. It is a popular place for graduation ceremonies and both the UCP and Anglia Ruskin University graduations are held here, as well as awards ceremonies for Peterborough Regional College and City College Peterborough.

T. rex: The Killer Question exhibition imageIn 2020 the Cathedral will host the dinosaur exhibition, T. rex: The Killer Question, from 20th July to 31st August. The touring exhibition was produced and developed by The Natural History Museum, London, and it is expected to attract many families to see it during the school summer holidays.

The Very Revd Chris Dalliston, Dean of Peterborough, said:

“We continue to look for new ways of ensuring that this is a place where people from all walks of life feel welcome. It was wonderful to see so many visitors in 2018 – our 900th anniversary year – when we hosted exhibitions like Tim Peake’s Spacecraft and Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon. I have no doubt that some of these visitors went on to attend Christmas services, where numbers were also up on the previous year. At the heart of our welcome is the love of God, which is for everyone regardless of who they are or where they come from.”

The Cathedral engages with large numbers of children on school visits as part of its lively education programme. It also offers scores of volunteering opportunities in all kinds of different roles, and has a team of well over 350 volunteers who help to keep the Cathedral running smoothly.

Next year, 2020, will see new pilgrimage routes to cathedrals opened-up as part of Year of Pilgrimage, a project in collaboration between the British Pilgrimage Trust and the Association of English Cathedrals. The initiative will ensure there is a one-day pilgrimage route for every Church of England Cathedral, in addition to a group of six new trails in the north east. A walking route from St Kyneburgha’s Church in Castor to Peterborough Cathedral will be part of this project. 

Adrian Dorber, Dean of Lichfield and Chair of the Association of English Cathedrals, described the latest statistics at pleasing, but warned against complacency:

“We continue to try and find ways that offer spiritual nurture and hospitality to people who have never had much contact with the Church or with organised religion,” he said.

“There is a place for a creative interpretation of big events and anniversaries - whether that’s the Armistice, Easter, Advent or the Moon Landing - and by opening up our great sacred spaces for such encounters, it opens up opportunities for new conversations and new dialogues; it welcomes, it challenges, it engages our communities and allows us to reach new audiences and that says something about cathedrals being a place for all, and a place for fresh encounter.”

A note of the times of services taking place at Peterborough Cathedral this Christmas are online at


  • Easter Eve and Easter Day attendances at Peterborough Cathedral in 2018 were 1,491
    Easter Eve and Easter Day attendances at Peterborough Cathedral in 2017 were 1,153
  • Christmas Eve and Christmas Day attendances at Peterborough Cathedral in 2018 were 5,463
    Christmas Eve and Christmas Day attendances at Peterborough Cathedral in 2017 were 4,830
  • The number of visitors to Peterborough Cathedral (excluding those attending events, services or school visits) was approximately 220,000 in 2018, compared to approximately 70,000 in 2017.
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