LincolnshireHEMINGBYStMargaret(explorechurches.org)1

Inspire me

Whatever your passion; art, wildlife, sculpture, family history, architecture, walking, rock climbing, searching out the most perfect cream tea or even just finding somewhere quiet to sit and read a book. These are all things you can do in church buildings around the UK. Here you will find themes to inspire and trails to follow.

14 churches

BillBryson
LISTBillBryson(©billbryson)

Bill Bryson

'It is impossible to overstate the importance of churches to this country. Nothing else in the built environment has the emotional and spiritual resonance, the architectural distinction, the ancient, reassuring solidity of a parish church. To me, they are the physical embodiment of all that is best and most enduring in Britain.' Everybody loves Bill Bryson. His best selling travel books extol the glories of our country and he is a Vice President of the National Churches Trust. Here he chooses 14 of his favourite churches, including Durham Cathedral, The Italian Chapel in Orkney and London’s St Martin’s in the Fields. Click on the links to find more information and photos of each wonderful building.

6 churches

BritishLibrary
LISTGunpowderPlot(britishlibraryCC0)1

Gunpowder, treason & plot

Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpowder treason and plot! For 400 years, bonfires have burned on November 5th to mark the failed Gunpowder Plot. Guy Fawkes and twelve other men conspired to blow up the Houses of Parliament on November 5th, 1605. The tradition of Guy Fawkes or Bonfire Night began the very same year as the failed coup. The plot was foiled in the night between the 4th and 5th of November 1605. Already on the 5th, agitated Londoners who knew little more than that their King had been saved, joyfully lit bonfires in thanksgiving. Soon, people began placing effigies of Guy Fawkes, and sometimes the Pope or others, onto bonfires. The tradition grew and fireworks displays soon filled the skies. But who were the core conspirators and where can you visit their old haunts.

10 churches

SarahCrossland
GwyneddNANTPERISStPeris(sarahcrosslandSTAFF)2

Mountain churches

On the 11th December, International Mountain Day celebrates the wonder and importance of mountains. Here are ten of our favourite mountain churches. But there are many more. Sheltered in hidden valleys underneath our highest mountains, offering places of comfort after a day exploring the surrounding fells.

9 churches

LISTCharlesIIOak(CC0)1

Oak apple day

The escape of Charles II from England in 1651 started with the Royalist defeat at Battle of Worcester. He had many adventures, most famously hiding up an oak tree in Boscobel Wood, before setting sail for France in October. The story is remembered in the traditions of Oak Apple Day, on 29 May.

12 churches

MikeBishop
LISTHadriansWallHeader(mikebishopCC-BY-SA2.0)1

Hadrian’s wall

The Tyne Valley is known for its fine concentration of early churches, many built with stones recycled from the wall, arguably the best surviving concentration north of the Alps!

11 churches

NickRowland
LISTCapbilityBrown(nickrowlandCC-BY-ND2.0)1

Capability Brown

Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown was probably England’s greatest landscape designer. He changed the face of 18th century England, designing country estates and mansions, moving hills and making flowing lakes and serpentine rivers, a magical world of green. He even had a hand in a few churches.

12 churches

DavidSkinner
GreaterLondonTOTTERIDGEStAndrew(davidskinnerCC-BY-2.0)2

Ancient yew trees

As ancient as they are beautiful, our churches are the present custodians of yew trees planted and cared for over many centuries. From 500 year old trees planted in the Middle Ages, 800 year old trees planted by the Normans, even older specimens planted by Saxons and early Welsh saints and the possibility that some might even predate Christianity.

8 churches

Ozimanndias8
NorthumberlandHEXHAMHexhamAbbey(ozimanndias8CC-BY-2.0)1

Oldest churches

The building of churches, whether for monasteries or public use, was an early sign of the growing influence of Christianity. What is astounding is how many elements of these earliest buildings survive today. This list includes churches where ancient fabric dates from pre AD800, and all are still being used.

12 churches

DavidIliff
GreaterLondonHOLBORNStEtheldreda(davidiliffCC-BY-SA3.0)1

Twelve days

The Twelve Days of Christmas was first published as a rhyme in 1780, with the tune coming from an arrangement of a traditional folk song in 1909. All together now! On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

Help support ExploreChurches by becoming a Friend of the National Churches Trust