PLANS by Historic Scotland to charge visitors entry to Glasgow Cathedral have been put on hold as hundreds of people voice opposition.
Officials of the Kirk Session of Glasgow Cathedral said they had no formal notification from the government body but remained opposed to charging, which might particularly hit patients and staff at the neighbouring Glasgow Royal Infirmary.
The cathedral was gifted to the people of Scotland and is managed by the government agency, in a way similar to Dunfermline Abbey and Edinburgh and Stirling castles.
Historic Scotland said the site – also known as St Mungo’s Cathedral – costs more than £500,000 a year to run. Discussion was continuing with the church community, a spokesman said, confirming the suspension of the plan for fees, which would have come into effect next April and helped pay for the church and the grounds.
Charges for tourist entry to churches can be found across Europe but the petition, launched by Mary Thomson, a member of the Kirk Session, argued that free entry reflected “the humanity and warmth of a great city and country”. The 1,700-name petition remains online.
Session Clerk Glen Collie said that of dozens of cathedrals in England and Wales, only nine currently charge admission, with Westminster Abbey at £20 and St Paul’s at £18. Glasgow’s charges would have been £4-5.
Confirming the Kirk Session had been given no formal notice of a suspension of the charging plan, he said: “We have been in discussion with Historic Scotland for some considerable time. The Kirk is not in favour.
“We function daily as a place of refuge and prayer for people who inhabit the Royal Infirmary, both people visiting patients and doctors and nurses. It is a space for quiet contemplation.
“Nearly all public buildings in Glasgow are free. This is the ‘Mother Church’ of Glasgow. It was gifted to the people of Scotland, not some government quango. We have made several suggestions to recoup money from the tourists.”
The cathedral was originally managed by the former Glasgow Corporation and eventually found itself under the care of Historic Scotland.
A spokesperson for Historic Scotland said: “Following months of positive discussions with the cathedral community about alternative means of raising funds to invest in the building, we have decided to suspend plans to introduce admission charges to Glasgow Cathedral.
“Incidentally, this would only have applied to visitors and would not have affected worshippers. The costs of running the building are, however, considerable – in excess of £500,000 a year – which the church currently makes no contribution to, unlike other places of worship across the country.
“We are currently in advanced discussions with the cathedral community about what fair contribution could be made, specifically to cover some of the costs of the pastoral use of the building.”