Cathedral Gin – not such a tonic?

Blackburn Cathedral launches own brand gin as 51,507 die from alcohol-specific deaths.

Cathedral Gin – not such a tonic?

The Church Times reported that the Dean of Blackburn Cathedral, Very Revd Peter Howell, has persuaded the cathedral authorities to spend £18,000 on marketing a gin, called ‘Cathedra’, which will cost around £45 per bottle. The cathedral see this as a fund raising venture and an opportunity, says the Dean, ‘to engage with all aspects of society’…..Indeed click on the cathedral website and the first item which faces you is a bottle of gin!

Is this really what cathedrals should be doing? In 2016 there were 51,507 alcohol-specific deaths in the UK and over 300,000 alcohol -caused hospital admissions. No doubt the cathedral parishioners who can afford to spend £45 on this gin will not be visiting our town and city centres on Saturday night, blighted by the drunken revelry which necessitates the need for stretched police and ambulance services to be on hand. What next does the Dean of Blackburn intend to do? Special cathedral brand cigarettes? Maybe fruit machines in the transept?

If the cathedral truly wants to ‘engage with different groups of people’ why not try talking to them about a different kind of Spirit? Maybe the way to engage with people under the age of 40 who might well be drinking gin on a night out, is not to offer them a different brand of gin but a fresh look at what Christian faith might look like today?

What do PCN readers think about this?

Adrian Alker


1 On 20/11/2018 Peter Bellenes wrote:

The magistrate Henry Fielding, author of Tom Jones, wrote in 1751 that gin caused a “new kind of drunkenness.” Buckfast tonic wine in the 21st c. has brought disrepute to a Devon abbey having been mentioned in almost 6,500 Strathclyde Police crime reports between 2010 and 2012. Their Abbot, David Charlesworth, claimed in The Guardian to be upset by the Buckfast Triangle - (an area in south Scotland - Airdrie, Coatbridge and Bellshill)  “I don’t want Buckfast Abbey to be associated with broken bottles and drunks,” he says. “But is the product bad? No.” One writer suggested that’s like Kalashnikov feeling sad about the way his rifles are used. Let’s pray Blackburn Cathedral doesn’t get the same reputation.

NHS guidance can be foiund at

Peter Bellenes
web editor PCN Britain

2 On 21/11/2018 Carole Wynn wrote:

I agree with the questions.

3 On 29/11/2018 Martin Truscott wrote:

I’ve just checked the wording in the background. It reads, “The Spirit of England’s Cathederals”. Does this embrace all English Cathederals? Do they even know they are included? I appreciate CofE is only established in England but what message are they really trying to give to a fragmented, austerity ridden United Kingdom on the brink of the Brexit unknown?
Is the Gospel really proclaimed by selling high priced alcohol?
(And, no I’m not teetotal)

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