St Paul’s Cathedral could close in cash crisis

St Paul’s Cathedral could close in cash crisis


norman lebrecht

May 14, 2021

The Dean of St Paul’s has told the BBC that the cathedral cannot cover its expenses and may have to disband its historic music ensemble, the Vicar’s Choral, which dates back to the 13th century. The ensemble consists of 12 adult professionals and 30 boys. According to the BBC, Andrew Carwood, St Paul’s director of music, said other expenses mean they cannot be funded at the moment.

The Cathedral is suffering from lack of tourist visitors, who constitute a major income stream. It was awarded £2.1 million in government emergency aid last November.


Its deputy director of music resigned yesterday to join Westminster Cathedral.


  • Mark (London) says:

    Where’s the £2milliin gone ?

    • Garry Humphreys says:

      Absolutely. Don’t these organizations have savings and investments to carry them through lean periods like this? I can’t believe they don’t – and if they don’t the Dean and Chapter should resign immediately, on the grounds of gross irresponsibility. In 2019 St Paul’s had approximately 1.72 million visitors paying £18 (adults), £16 (students and seniors), or £8 (children aged six to 17) – what have they been doing with it?!

  • Gustavo says:

    Likely to be run down like Semperoper in a woke agenda 2030.

  • Too sad says:

    As a former (very early to mid-80’s) chorister, I cannot believe this.

    We are looking at a choir that has gone from 18 men [every day until 1981, then 18 on Sundays only] and 38+ boys singing 10 services a week [Matins and Evensong on Saturdays; x3 on Sundays] to 12 and 30, and now possibly being reduced further – to nothing at all…yet all the while striving to maintain as it has done to date the musical excellence that has always made it ‘then best of the best of the best’ (as BMR always told us).

    It is easy to blame a virus or wider secularisation of society (I was a chorister in a small village church choir in the late 70’s – what is of parish choral music-making now?), but if this is true, it is too horrible to contemplate.

    And of course, if true, think of the ripple-effects if no boy choristers: reducing the numbers of music scholarships to schools and likely progression to Choral Scholars and entering the music profession as adults.

    Consider too how in the War the boys went off to Truro, but the men still sang daily – perhaps the threat to their life was ‘differently-dangerous’ but they continued al the same. No such joy (or spiritual relief) in lock-down or much of it anyway.

    (And I recall an Evensong when there was an IRA bomb-scare – but we carried on singing at least until the end of the Psalms [for the day, of course]..!)

    But with all that in mind, and the ‘lack of tourism’ being given as a primary reason – St. Paul’s only ‘recently’ (late 90’s?) charged an entrance fee – how did it support itself until then (and a larger choir to boot)? Might its then supporters make themselves known once more?

    Perhaps some, if not all, of the monuments to all those great and good 18th and 19th Century men can be removed and sold off for scrap marble…might that help…?

    And to think there is talk of a Covid chapel (or equivalent) costing millions – why (other than to tick an ‘on message’ box)? Where’s the one to Spanish Flu, Hong Kong flu, Yellow Fever and malaria victims etc etc, all of whom are far greater in number… and who will sing at its ‘blessing’ ?

  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    ==‘then best of the best of the best’

    When that’s drummed into them – the whole thing deserves to fail

  • John Borstlap says:

    Why don’t they sell the towers or/and the dome to some rich Americans? Some billionairs paid for the reconstruction of the Frauenkirche in Dresden, and in the London case there would not need to be any rebuilding, they can just own the items and pay for the upkeep.

  • Old Bob says:

    Anyway, this is fake news…

  • V.Lind says:

    There is a difference between the disbanding of a choir and the closing of St. Paul’s — which is a church, after all, with worshippers. Where does is say it is closing?

    • Allen says:

      “Where does is say it is closing?”

      It doesn’t because it won’t be allowed to happen. I’m not saying that there isn’t a problem, but somebody will come up with a solution.

      It’s churches and cathedrals in places that cannot benefit so easily from tourism (when it returns) that we should be worrying about.

  • AT-H says:

    This is what can come of paying Tom Joy £500,000+ p.a., as the Church’s main asset management man.

    Somebody else should have been found, to do the job for a lot less.

    Money should be used wisely, not wasted.