At lunchtime today it was warm and sunny and I walked around the Abbey, I can
see into the grounds of Lesnes from my upstairs windows. I walked around all the paths and gardens which are
within a couple of hundred yards of the ruins. The cafe, the Monk’s Garden, the
two viewing platforms all the while counting the coffee drinkers, the dog walkers, the sun
bathers and the picnickers. I made it 36 in total but let’s call it 50, I may have missed one or two.
Guessing the turn over for the whole day that could well add up to 500 if one is generous. How many gloriously sunny days do we have in a year? 200? I doubt it but people do visit the Abbey on dull days too, just not as many unless there is snow and the sledgers turn out in force.
What’s 200 x 500? Err, 100,000. Councillor Craske says the true number of visitors is 400,000. No one knows how he counts them but with a following wind his figure may be somewhere near right but given his track record for truthful statements and the view from my bedroom window I reserve the right to be sceptical.
There are high days and holidays that boost the numbers and I become only too aware of them when my road fills up with badly parked cars. I have not seen that this year at all but I admit I was away for the day of the musical event.
I was aware of the medieval jousting but wasn’t aware of the starting time and planned to take a look once I heard the noise and saw the street filling with cars. Neither happened. I assumed I must have got the date wrong but it transpired that I was not the only one unaware that anything was going on. Attendance was very poor, I saw the photos.
On 24th August there is to be a film show at the Abbey, I may have to close the windows.
The ticket arrangements shout “amateur”. You have to make a booking by email giving your phone number and then the Council or their agent calls you back to ask for your credit card number. If they sell a lot of tickets the labour costs will be enormous and what is Bexley Council doing phoning people up and asking for card numbers when they are usually so keen on issuing scam warnings?
Presumably they have never heard of Eventbrite.
As I said, I was away for the music event but friends and neighbours weren’t. Reports said that it too was poorly attended and was unlikely to make any money. 15 or more security guards with nothing to do would not have helped. One must wonder about the competency of the Lesnes Abbey management. The nursery school and the yoga classes were both chased away although Amal appears to be doing reasonably well in the cafe. I arranged to entertain a lady there but came unstuck. It is closed on Mondays.
I may not have planned to spend much in the Abbey but Bexley Council is spending plenty.
A Freedom of Information request shows that expenditure over the past year has been £90,834 on staff salaries, £3,666 on miscellaneous building costs and £40,567 on office equipment and activities - whatever they may be. Fortunately a grant (from who?) brings those figures more or less into balance.