Canterbury Tale: Tourists Have to Pay Starting in June
Apr. 05, 1995
CANTERBURY, England (AP) _ Canterbury Cathedral has been drawing streams of tourists since the 12th century, but starting this summer, they will have to pay to enter.
At least 2.25 million people came last year, when the church asked for voluntary donations, but they gave an average of just 19 cents each, the Very Rev. John Simpson, dean of the Cathedral, told a news conference Wednesday.
Beginning June 5, visitors will be charged 2 pounds ($3.20) for access to the cathedral precincts, including the vast church, the cloister and the surrounding ruins and buildings.
Admission will not be charged on Sundays, and residents and those with a ``genuine wish to worship'' will still be admitted free.
``We will run a `benefit of the doubt' policy,'' said Canon Roger Symon, calling the fee ``a moderate rate to pay for the experience.''
Canterbury has been a magnet for travelers since Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered in the church by henchmen of King Henry II in 1170. The church was expanded to accommodate the throngs who came to venerate Becket's tomb, and the pilgrimage was the basis for Geoffrey Chaucer's ``Canterbury Tales.''
The archbishop of Canterbury is the spiritual leader of the Church of England and of the world-wide Anglican Communion.
Canterbury joins a growing number of hard-pressed English cathedrals that are selling tickets, including St. Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey in London, and Ely Cathedral, 70 miles northeast of London.
Simpson, the dean, hopes the plan will raise $1.6 million the first year, to help offset maintenance costs that run nearly $11,000 a day.