Michael Hanselmann
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Plans to charge for Cathedral visits criticised

Tue 21 Oct 2014
By Joy Tibbs

Proposals to charge tourists to visit Glasgow Cathedral have been condemned as "totally unreasonable".

Historic Scotland, which is responsible for the upkeep of the church, has announced plans to charge a £4 or £5 entry fee from 1st April next year.

The organisation said the charge had to be introduced to raise enough money to maintain the church, but hundreds of people have now signed a petition against the move.

A Church of Scotland Kirk Session spokesman said: "For more than 800 years Glasgow's St Mungo's Cathedral has been serving its parish, city and country, and has been freely open to all who wish to enter.

"The reason for such a move has been stated to be due to financial pressures on Historic Scotland and the need to make 'its properties' pay.

"The stated position of the Kirk Session of Glasgow Cathedral is that the church should be free to all who feel a need and desire to visit within its walls for any reason.

"Glasgow Cathedral is a living church with a vibrant congregation and a mission as the Mother Church of Glasgow not simply a monument to the past to be exploited as a source of revenue.

"Each day there are numerous people who use the cathedral as a refuge and find the quiet opportunity for prayer and reflection of great benefit.

"For example, one can always find people such as patients, relatives, friends and staff from the Royal Infirmary, which is located adjacent to Glasgow Cathedral, in quiet corners of the building, like the Nurses' Chapel.

"Each week the clergy receive and respond to many hundred prayer requests left in the Prayer Chapel. The Kirk Session feels that to charge a £4 or £5 admission fee to people with such a need is totally unreasonable."

The Cathedral's minister Rev Dr Laurence Whitley, told BBC Scotland: "I don't know if that's a terribly good message to be sending out if people come to the mother church of this great city and find they have to pay £4.50 to get in, just to see it."

In a statement, Historic Scotland said: "We are investigating the possibility of charging for admission for visitors to Glasgow Cathedral.

"In line with many other cathedrals which perform a dual function as both a place of worship and a visitor attraction, any admission charge introduced would apply to visitors only and would not affect worshippers with any income generated from the introduction of a proposed admission charge reinvested into the Cathedral and the wider historic environment

"Discussions with the Church of Scotland and other interested parties are on-going."

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