CHESTER Cathedral has took the "sad decision" to shut its popular Falconry and Nature Gardens visitor attraction with the loss of five jobs.

The cathedral, which owns and operates the centre, says the permanent closure is the result of the challenges it faces in recovering from a £500,000 revenue deficit this year.

The Falconry and Nature Gardens had closed its doors on March 30 in line with the Government and national church advice resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

Sadly, despite receiving five star reviews the centre, which opened in July 2015, has struggled to attract significant visitor numbers irrespective of its location within the city walls.

Dean of Chester, the Very Revd Dr Tim Stratford says "We are extremely saddened to find ourselves in this position, but have to face our financial insecurity head-on and take action in order to protect the future of the Cathedral itself.

"I thank our entire Falconry Team for their hard work, passion and dedication to the Falconry Centre and to their birds too. I pray for them as they now seek new homes for the animals they love and have cared for for many years."

The cathedral is now making contact with individuals who had either pre-booked Falconry Experiences, Annual Passes or Sponsorships to arrange refunds.

To lessen further financial impact upon the cathedral, it says refunds converted into donations would be gratefully received, especially as it continues to re-home birds of prey and animals.