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Canterbury Cathedral 'could face structural disaster'

Canterbury Cathedral, Britain's oldest institution, is to hold crisis talks next month concerning the future of the structure.

The ancient building's authorities are set to launch an emergency global fundraising campaign in a desperate bid to save it from possible ruin.

The cathedral's patrons have stated that they are 'being forced to act as the cathedral is suffering serious damage through both old age and modern pollution'.

One of only two cathedrals in the UK to be granted World Heritage status, Canterbury Cathedral receives no state funding and relies mainly upon donations from tourists, of which almost a million visit every year.

Despite being one of the UK's major tourist hotspots, however, the running costs of the Grade I-listed building are more than £6 million a year, and the cathedral is struggling.

The patrons continued: 'Time is not on our side and, if we don't start now, the rate of decay and damage being inflicted on this unique place will increase dramatically with potentially disastrous consequences.'

The cathedral was founded in 597 AD by St Augustine, who was sent from Rome by Pope Gregory the Great to convert the pagan Anglo Saxons.

by Richard Vaughan

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