Melanie McDonagh Melanie McDonagh

Canterbury Cathedral’s ‘rave in the nave’ is indefensible

Canterbury Cathedral (Credit: Getty images/ Chris Ratcliffe)

It’s too late to get tickets for Canterbury Cathedral’s silent disco tonight – as with last night’s event, they sold out long ago – but you can still join the orderly prayer vigil against this caricature of the contemporary Church of England. Some 750 clubbers are expected to attend each of the four events over two days, to dance in the nave to hits from Britney Spears, the Spice Girls and Eminem. They’ll party the night away not far away from where Thomas a Becket was murdered in 1170 as he clung to a pillar; his brains and blood mixed on the floor. His shrine is somewhere nearby. Oh, and alcohol will be available for revellers.

This martyrdom site was once the second most popular pilgrimage destination in the Middle Ages. Now it’s the setting for what the Cathedral authorities insist is not a ‘rave in the nave’. Whatever; it does make you wonder about the wisdom of the CofE retaining the property of the Catholic Church at the Reformation, given this is what they do with it. 

Naturally and inevitably, the Cathedral authorities are saying that this is an opportunity to reach out to young people and raise funds for the preservation of this historic building. The event, they insist, will be ‘respectful’, though if you could tell me how, I’d be interested. It would be better to let the rain come through the roof than allow the house of God – as it is, even under the aegis of the CofE – to be turned into a bloody disco. The authorities want to preserve the building: as what? Certainly not as a church, as the seat of the primate of England (that’s Justin Welby, of course).

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