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Norwich Cathedral to spend £1.5m rebuilding organ as country’s other religious buildings hit financial trouble

PUBLISHED: 06:30 11 April 2017 | UPDATED: 13:34 14 April 2017

The Very Rev Jane Hedges, Dean of Norwich Cathedral.  Photo: Bill Smith

The Very Rev Jane Hedges, Dean of Norwich Cathedral. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant ý 2014

As financial crises threatens the future of some of the country’s most cherished religious buildings, Norwich Cathedral reveals how it is bucking the trend.

Norwich Cathedral's finances for the financial year ending March 2016.Norwich Cathedral's finances for the financial year ending March 2016.

The 900-year-old building, which employs around 70 members of staff, was more than £560,000 better off according to its end of year accounts for 2016.

And its dean, the Very Rev Dr Jane Hedges, has revealed the cathedral is now looking to spend around £2m on rebuilding its organ and supporting its existing choirs.

It comes as the Church of England announced it was launching an investigation into the running of cathedrals across the country.

The body has put together a working party looking into the way cathedrals are governed, their accountability and how financial decisions are made.

It was prompted by a recent report into the financial problems at Peterborough Cathedral, where difficulties have left the church at risk of not being able to pay staff.

But The Very Rev Hedges said Norwich Cathedral was in much different position - partly thanks to its large property portfolio on The Close.

However, she stressed the 2016 surplus of £560,867 included funds for special projects, and that most years the surplus was closer to £20,000.

Of the £4.6m income it received at the end of March 2016, the cathedral’s accounts show that £1.7m was made through the rent of its nearby homes.

Meanwhile, a further £662,657 came from donations, £111,432 from congregational collections, and more than £38,000 from the visitor donation boxes.

The Very Rev Hedges said: “It is a very healthy position, but the important thing to remember is that when you are managing quite a lot of money, you have a big responsibility to make sure you look after it well.

“And we know we cannot be complacent, because we are dealing with a 900-year-old building, you never know what could happen. There is a vulnerability around these ancient buildings.”

In the year ending March 2016, the cathedral paid £1.3m on the upkeep of the cathedral building and its precincts.

More than £100,000 went towards security and garden upkeep. A further £826,351 was spent on the ministry, of which £204,709 went on clergy stipends.

Cathedral projects

Norwich Cathedral is to launch a new appeal after Easter to help pay for its 75-year-old organ to be rebuilt.

Constructed between 1940 and 1942, it is said to be one of the largest pipe organs in the country.

But the Very Rev Dr Jane Hedges said years of regular use had left it needing “a lot of work” to bring it back to its former glory.

The cathedral is also seeking to raise money to “shore up” the endowment fund for its boys choir, and provide additional singing lessons for its girls choir.

Along with work on the organ, the projects are expected to cost a total of £2m.

Over the past 12 months the cathedral has already paid £1.5m to replace all of its indoor lighting with LEDs.

The Very Rev Hedges said: “The old lights were very basic and were put in 50 years ago. All being well these will last for another 50 years.”

All of the lights are expected to be replaced this year.

Other cathedrals facing financial problems

The inquiry was prompted by a recent report into the financial problems at Peterborough Cathedral, where difficulties led to the departure of the dean.

But it is not the only cathedral in the country facing difficulties.

In Exeter, the dean was accused of poor financial management by the bishop, the Rt Rev Robert Atwell, and there has been talk of staff redundancies.

The cathedral faces a predicted deficit of £175,000, following a failed £8.7m plan to restore the Roman baths on the site.

And in Guildford, Surrey, plans to build houses on church land - with an aim of rasing £10m - have been thrown out by the council. The cathedral is said to be losing £100,000 a year.

Meanwhile Durham Cathedral has an annual deficit of £500,000. Its annual report states income was increasing, but not at a fast enough rate.

And Ripon Cathedral, in Yorkshire, is reportedly running a deficit of £40,000 on an income of £1.34m.

Church of England working group

The working group set up by the Church of England will look at a number of areas in regard to cathedral governance.

These includes training and development for cathedral deans, financial management issues and safeguarding measures.

It will report back to the Archbishops’ Council, Church Commissioners and House of Bishops in December 2017.

The review follows a formal investigation of Peterborough Cathedral by its bishop, the Rt Rev Donald Allister.

In a report, he said: “The Peterborough situation has convinced me that the high degree of independence currently enjoyed by cathedrals poses serious risks to the reputation of the whole church, and thus to our effectiveness in mission.”

Each of England’s 42 Anglican diocesan cathedrals are run by a dean and chapter, independently of their diocese or the Church of England.

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