While Bath Abbey has every reason to be thankful to the Heritage Lottery Fund and philanthropists like Andrew Brownsword in helping get their Footprint Project off the ground – there’s the day to day expenses involved in running such an historic building to take into account too.
Just recently l noticed the ‘Welcome’ board outside this late 15th century gothic structure was displaying a sign suggesting slightly more in the way of voluntary donation.
Basically – it’s gone up from two pounds and fifty pence to four.
The ‘suggested donation’ board.
Thought l would just make inquiries and got the following official reply:
‘There is no charge to enter the Abbey, but we do invite visitors to make a donation at our entrance.
Every donation we receive helps enormously. As we do not receive government funding, we rely on the generosity of our visitors and our congregation to fund the work, outreach and maintenance of the Abbey.
We’ve been able to keep our suggested donation at £2.50 (or £1 per child/student) for nearly 17 years.
However, a visitor report last year which included consultation with visitors, market research coupled with inflation showed that a slight increase would be appropriate. At the start of the year, we changed our suggested donation to £4 per person (or £2.00 per child / student).
We are grateful for every donation, whatever the amount. The suggested donation is just that.
The main reason for suggesting an amount is that our experience and research has shown that many visitors find having a suggested amount more helpful than leaving it up to them.
It is important that our visitors know that their donations help us maintain the life the Abbey so that we can continue to welcome our visitors and best serve the city of Bath.’
It’s also good to know the busy Christmas season at Bath Abbey has shown just how popular this gothic wonder is with the general public.
An Abbey spokesperson told me:
‘We’ve definitely seen an increase in our general visitor figures from 2015 to 2016 in the last couple of month.’
And here’s a comparison of figures for November and December 2015 and 2016.
November 22,170 23,793
December 23,272 29,172
The Abbey provided me with the following points – which may be of interest – but stress these are approximate figures.
• The Abbey is full every day from Advent until Christmas Day. We can seat over 1,000 people in the Abbey and for our most popular services such as the Advent Procession, we have to ticket the service otherwise we could fill the church twice over, easily.
• Including our Advent service, we have around 40 different carol services and four huge Christmas concerts. All of these services and concerts are packed. A very rough estimate is approximately 24,000 people in total attend all these different services.
• There are 3 services on Christmas Eve and another 3 services on Christmas Day with several thousand attending in those 24 hours.
• We also have Shoppers Carols four times a day on Saturdays during the Bath Christmas market and each service attracts around 700-1,000 people.
• The combination of services, rehearsals and the relatively small space of the Abbey makes November and December a very busy but amazing time for us especially as we try to make each service special.
Everyone has a great time and there’s genuine community spirit with giving and receiving and a lot of Christmas goodwill.