Bolton Priory Church welcomes the world

Record visitor numbers to North Yorkshire’s ancient church

The congregation and clergy at the Priory Church, Bolton Abbey in North Yorkshire, always knew they received a large number of visitors. Previous estimates of annual footfall into the medieval church were around 100,000.

But now, a people counter, installed last year has produced, for the first time, accurate visitor statistics and shows that the number of visitors was being wildly underestimated.

The people counter shows that between September 2016 and August 2017 the Priory actually welcomed 162,000 worshippers and visitors. The busiest day in this period saw over 1,700 visitors come through the doors!

The figures show that the Priory Church is the most visited church or cathedral in the Diocese of Leeds. They also compare favourably with other Yorkshire visitor attractions – Whitby Abbey (151,810  in 2016), Clifford’s Tower (146,703 in 2016) and , if verified, would put the Priory Church  in 151st place in the annual list of national attractions produced by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA).

The visitors to the Priory Church come from all over the world. Nearly sixty countries and territories, from every continent except Antarctica, were represented in the statistics and visitors came from as far afield as Tibet, Thailand, and Trinidad & Tobago.

The Priory is open every day of the year, and from Easter to October a dedicated team of welcomers and guides is on duty every day. Larger parties are offered a formal guided tour by arrangement in advance.

The Rector of Bolton Abbey, Canon Simon Cowling, expressed his delight at the figures: “The Priory Church is a very special place, home to a living community of Christians committed to welcome, worship, and witness.

“We are thrilled that so many people from around the world are able to take back to their own communities such a positive experience of that commitment.

“The range of comments in our visitors’ book, and the many prayers that are left by the candle stand, are testament to the effectiveness of our witness to the love of God in Jesus Christ.”

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