Consultation on cathedral governance

Consultation launched following Cathedrals Working Group’s draft report

Following the publication of the Cathedrals Working Group’s draft report on 17 January,  the Group is carrying out an open consultation on this draft, and is seeking feedback via an on-line survey. Details of these are given in the Press Release and the linked information on the on-line Consultation, below. 

New ideas to secure England’s cathedrals for the future


England’s historic cathedrals are one of the real success stories of the Church in the 21st Century, but should make changes to secure them for the future, a report published today finds.

The paper from the Church of England’s Cathedrals Working Group sets out new ideas on how cathedrals could be governed and funded.

The proposals, emerging from seven months of meetings and discussions, aim to recognise and enhance the vital role that cathedrals play while building a robust framework for the future.

A consultation on the recommendations opens today, seeking views from interested groups.

They range from recommendations on how the structure of Chapter – a cathedral’s traditional governing body – could be reformed to new financial auditing processes.

The Working Group was set up by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York after a small number of cathedrals highlighted challenges in governance and management.

The working group consulted with people from all parts of the cathedral sector and elsewhere, including charities and wider civil society, to develop the proposals.

At the heart of the recommendations is the retention of Chapter as the governing body of a cathedral, but with a clearer emphasis on its governance role. There would be a separate management function provided by a Senior Executive Team who will oversee day- to-day cathedral operations.

The report also makes proposals on key areas of leadership, financial control, safeguarding, oversight of building projects and stresses the urgency of opening a dialogue with Government about state funding for cathedrals.

Adrian Newman, Bishop of Stepney and Chair of the Cathedrals Working Group, said: “Cathedrals buck the trends of numerical decline, exert a growing influence in civil society, and demonstrate an effective way of engaging with contemporary culture.

“They are inspirational in their impact on our national life and on the lives of millions of worshippers and visitors each year.

“We hope that the recommendations in our report will encourage a much closer collaboration between cathedral and diocese, dean and bishop and point towards good practice in a cathedral’s wider relationships with the diocese and the national church. The mutuality of these relationships is vital.

“In proposing changes to governance structures and aspects of cathedral operations, we do not wish to inhibit the entrepreneurial flair that has characterised so much that is good about the world of cathedrals nor impose unnecessary red tape.

“However, we are committed to ensure that cathedrals do not get into situations which prevent them from thriving in their role as pioneers in mission and ministry.

“England’s cathedrals are an immense gift to Church and nation, and we hope that our report can help to form a better understanding of how this gift can be nurtured and protected, celebrated and safeguarded long in to the future.”

Adrian Dorber, chair of the Association of English Cathedrals, and Dean of Lichfield, said: “Cathedrals are the nation’s treasures – from protecting invaluable heritage such as Magna Carta and ancient shrines to supporting social enterprises helping the homeless and the vulnerable and offering inspirational daily worship to lift the spirits and providing a place for the nation to come to be healed at times of mourning or national crisis.

“Surely no-one would argue with a fresh look at the way we are run and financed, so we are excited about where this report may take us and look forward to the responses the consultation may bring and the final report.

“Our cathedrals have been here for hundreds of years, vibrant seats of mission, of learning, of heritage and of love, let’s ensure they are here for hundreds more.”

Notes for editors:

• There are 42 Anglican cathedrals in England. More information here.

• A review by the Faith Minister, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, published last month found that cathedrals play a crucial role in communities.

It highlighted figures showing that cathedrals draw in an estimated £220 million per year in spending to local economies per year and provide more than 5,500 local jobs. Full details here.

• The latest statistics on cathedrals show average weekday attendances were up, and visitor numbers exceeded 10 million in the past year, 16,500 people attended Fresh Expression services and 310,000 young people came to cathedrals through special educational visits, both of which were significant increases on previous years.

• Cathedrals continued to be centres of civic life, with 1.2 million people reported at 6,000 civic services and events throughout the year. More details here.

Cathedrals Working Group

17 January 2018

The Cathedrals Working Group’s draft report is now available to download. We are carrying out an open consultation on this draft, and would really value your feedback via this online survey. A downloadable pdf list of the questions in the survey can be found here.

Please note that you will be unable to save the survey and come back to it and will need to complete it in one go, therefore, you may wish to print the questions off before responding online.

We expect all participants to complete the survey online. If you are unable to do this then please contact us using the form at the bottom of this page.

The deadline for all responses is by 5pm on Wednesday 28 February.

  1. Online survey
  2. Cathedrals Working Group Report
  3. Downloadable list of survey questions

Background to the report

The Cathedrals Working Group was set up in response to a request made by the Bishop of Peterborough in his January 2017 Visitation Charge on Peterborough Cathedral. The Bishop asked that the Archbishops’ Council look carefully at how the current legislation governing cathedrals is operating, and whether any improvements could be made. The draft report is the result of this.

The report reviews and provides recommendations on 6 themes:

  • Mission and Ecclesiology
  • Governance
  • Leadership and Management
  • Finance
  • Buildings
  • Safeguarding

Diocese of Derby

“Cathedrals are spectacular and wonderful expressions of the mission of God in His world. There is much to celebrate, guard and nurture in the life of cathedrals – congregations are growing, people continue to visit in vast numbers, and demand for the contribution of cathedrals in civil society and the public square defies expectations in a secular age. All of this attests to their increasing popularity and cultural importance – cathedrals bring something unique and wonderful to Church and nation. Our vision in preparing this report has been to seek to preserve these extraordinary places so that they may carry on flourishing into the future.”

+Adrian Stepney, Chair of the Cathedrals Working Group

What happens next?

The consultation is open until Wednesday 28 February. After this all the responses will be collected and analysed. The Cathedrals Working Group will then meet to discuss what refinements and changes that might be made to the draft. The final version will then be submitted to the Archbishops’ Council in March, and once amended and approved by them will be published. Subject to their approval, an analysis of consultation responses will be published alongside the final version of the report. Both will be available on this website.


Chair: Rt Revd Adrian Newman, Bishop of Stepney

Vice-Chair: Very Revd Vivienne Faull, Dean of York

  • Mrs Julie Dziegel, member of General Synod (Oxford) and of the Archbishops’ Council Finance Committee
  • Andrew Holroyd OBE, Executive Chairman, Jackson Canter Solicitors, Lay Canon of Liverpool Cathedral
  • Carl Hughes, Member of the General Synod and the Archbishops’ Council Finance Committee; led the Visitation of Peterborough Cathedral on behalf of the Bishop of Peterborough; vice chairman of the Southwark Diocesan Board of Finance
  • Richard Oldfield, Chairman, Oldfield Partners, Chair of Canterbury Cathedral Council
  • Baroness Maeve Sherlock OBE
  • Jennie Page CBE, Former Vice Chair of the Cathedral Fabrics Commission for England, Vice Chair, Church Buildings Council, Chair of Southwark Cathedral Council
  • Dr Fiona Spiers, former Regional Director for Yorkshire and Humber, Heritage Lottery Fund
  • Rt Hon Jack Straw
  • Rt Revd Tim Stevens, former Bishop of Leicester

Terms of Reference

The Cathedrals Working Group has been established by the Archbishops in response to the request from the Bishop of Peterborough in his Visitation Charge “to look at whether the current Cathedrals Measure is adequate, and to consider revising it”.

The Working Group will therefore review the sufficiency of the Cathedrals Measure in relation to governance structures in cathedrals, with particular reference to:

  • Financial management
  • Major buildings projects
  • Safeguarding
  • Accountability, oversight and scrutiny

The Working Group will also review:

  • Leadership capacity, including training and development needs for Deans and Chapters
  • The relationship of cathedral governance structures to other key partners, especially the Diocesan Bishop, Diocese and Church Commissioners
  • The planning, execution, communication and implementation of Cathedral Visitation


The draft report and consultation will be considered in a future post.

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Consultation on cathedral governance" in Law & Religion UK, 18 January 2018,

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  1. Pingback: Governance of Church of England cathedrals: the draft report | Law & Religion UK

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