Thursday, 29 July 2010


I am sitting on a step outside Cafe Concerto in York listening to the carillon playing a rather attractive little medley of classical music. It's rather lovely to know not just who is playing it, but how he's playing it and where he's sitting!

I am on the first day of my summer holiday. I am camping on the moors with university friends. We've already been to see the old place. It's a very strange blend of the absolute familiar and whole buildings I've never seen before, which confused us all!

York itself has not changed at all. We had a splendid picnic in museum gardens before strolling along the Walls.

The only disappointment was arriving at the Minster to discover that you had to pay £8 to enter, which for a place of worship is criminal. By all means ask for donations, but this is a building which would have opened its doors to the most troubled members of society and now effectively welcomes only the wealthiest, which I think is grotesque and a typical indication of what's wrong with religion today!

350 years ago Pepys was himself complaining about religion. The service he went to on this date was 'over the top'. He soon returned to more interesting pursuits and went for a walk to the village of marylebone. The evening was spent getting his accounts signed off by montagu. Pepys was worth 120 l. He was getting wealthier by the day!


  1. I'm not sure about the Minster in general, but most churches, cathedrals etc will let you in for free if you want to actually use them as a place of worship.

    Sadly, most buildings of that nature need to charge stonking entrance fees to cover their truly horrendous running costs - old buildings ain't cheap! Particularly ecclesiastical buildings, as the local synod constantly butts in and adds ludicrous requirements and constraints to any work that needs doing.

  2. This is a tricky one but I recently went to St. Paul's, London and was horrified to see that they wanted £12.50 as an entrance fee.

    Worse, they had set aside a chapel ostentatiously beyond the rest of the building so that anyone wanting to 'worship' or have a quick 'pray' could do so without paying ... and presumably without disturbing the hordes of fee-paying punters.

    As commenter no. 1 rightly says, if you genuinely want to go for communion, e.g., there is generally no fee. But the real sting on our visit was that communion was about to start - we would have loved to have gone - but that there was nothing clearly on display to alert the queueing fee-payers to this.

    We gently raised this with the female cleric who asked us if we were staying for communion. Sorry we said (hopefully, not too churlishly) we've just paid £25.00 to come in so we'll probably just look at the arefacts instead.

    'If there wasn't an entrance fee, she said, briskly, there wouldn't be anything worth looking at'.


    By the way, I've followed all the ups and downs of the Symphony for Yorkshire. Well done and I look forward to seeing the result on 2nd August.

  3. Sorry, artefacts. But you may wish to try saying/typing that when you've had a few more gin and tonics, Ben xx