One Lancashire’s most senior clergymen is turning to drink to help raise much needed funds.
Blackburn Cathedral will this week launch the first ever cathedral branded gin. Called Cathedra, the tipple is the brainchild of Dean of Blackburn who hopes it will find favour in the current gin revival and help create a new income stream for the cathedral.
The gin is made by Brindle Distillery, based in Brindle, near Chorley, and church officials hope it will be stocked by other cathedrals around the country. Dean of Blackburn, the Very Revd Peter Howell Jones said: “This is not a novelty, this is a cathedral doing business. Blackburn is not a tourism centre, it is not a rich part of the world, and we need to reach out to markets beyond our town and region to be sustainable long term.
“Gin is on trend, it is a developing market and there is a long history of monastic communities brewing mead, wines and beers. I wanted to create a brand that would work across the country and could create a income stream from which all English Cathedrals can benefit.”
In the shorter term, the Dean hopes Cathedra will be one of a number of fundraising ventures to raise the £1m match-funding needed to redevelop the cathedral’s crypt into a community and conference facility, and an exhibition and heritage space which tells the region’s rich history of Lancashire’s cotton towns and the faith which underpinned them.
Longer term, he hopes it will provide an income stream to guarantee sustainability and to ensure Blackburn Cathedral’s social cohesion projects and its education and music development programme, which currently reaches 6,500 children across 160 schools, will be there for future generations.
Cathedra gin will first be unveiled to an audience of business leaders and civic dignitaries at the Dean’s Dinner in Blackburn Cathedral this Thursday (November 15) when it will be offered alongside Prosecco as an aperitif. It is also available online from this date, from selected cathedral shops and independent wines shops.
Peter is no stranger to unusual fundraising initiatives, while serving as Vice Dean at Chester Cathedral, he opened a falconry centre in the grounds and was instrumental in bringing last year’s Ark exhibition which featured Damian Hirst’s Golden Calf alongside works by Jacob Epstein and Elizabeth Frink, and featured more than 90 different artists securing the cathedral the 2017 ‘Tourism Experience or Event of the Year’ in the local Cheshire Life Awards.
The gin will be available from November 15 priced £45 at www.blackburncathedral.com/visit-blackburn-cathedral/gift-shop/