From March 24th Exeter Cathedral will be charging tourists an entry fee. This idea had I think been mooted some time ago and now, with voluntary donations falling, it's been decided that there is no alternative but to charge those who wish to look at this venerable old building. Running costs are huge, over £1 million a year apparently, so they have decided to bite the bullet. The charge will be £4 per person, reduced to £2 for students and pensioners whilst children under 16 who are accompanied by an adult will be admitted for free. Quite rightly those who enter the cathedral to pray or to join a service will not be charged. There are a handful of other cathedrals such as Canterbury and St Paul's who already charge an admission so Exeter is by no means the first.
Forgetting the fact that this is a religious building for a moment one would expect to pay for instance to enter a National Trust house or English Heritage property and if you are going to see a cathedral purely as a tourist attraction then forking out for a relatively modest fee doesn't seem unreasonable to me. I have to say it is a great many years, decades even, since I've been in this particular cathedral. It's tempting to get a senior railcard and spend the occasional day in Exeter; the alternative is to drive to the outskirts and use the 'park and ride' but I enjoy the train and, as I found out at Christmas, there is a morning through service from Gunnislake to Exeter. Food for thought.
Going back to cathedrals for a moment, by and large I much prefer much smaller and more intimate buildings such as village churches. So I was agreeably surprised to find just how much I really warmed to Truro Cathedral when I first visited it. Although interested in all aspects of the built environment I usually have a greater rapport with the much smaller buildings and structures.