We appreciate the little churches in life. Church buildings come in many varieties, from old to new, urban to rural, and big to small. Here is a beautiful selection of the smallest churches in Britain.
This is perhaps the smallest of all of the churches on this list and indeed in Britain. It is named after a 6th century Celtic saint and sits over a natural spring which has long been associated for its healing powers. The building is a very simple low stone structure with wide stone buttresses, and at full capacity the church can fit about 6 people within its walls. St Trillo is sited on the coastline of North Wales, affording beautiful views across Penrhyn Bay.
Holding the Guinness Book of World Records title for ‘England’s smallest church in use’, Bremilham Church is near Malmesbury in Wiltshire. It only has room to fit a single four person pew, or about ten people standing. For years it was used for keeping turkeys in by the local farmer, but it was cleaned and blessed by the Bishop when new owners took over the farm in 1955. Despite being a small church, some 50 people turn up to services, which take place outside come rain or shine.
The title of second smallest church in England goes to St Andrew’s at Upleatham, which measures a miniscule 6m by 4m. In fact, the tiny building is all that remains of a larger church dating from the 12th century. The old church itself was replaced by a new church in 1835 and is now closed, but the churchyard is open for visitors to look around and admire this tiny gem.
This church holds the title of being the smallest active church in Yorkshire. Befitting its small church, it is also said that the village of Fordon is one of the smallest villages in the UK. The church is Norman, built between 1086 and 1115. The church worked with the local brewery to produce a celebration beer in 2015; the Fordon 900.
A chapel of ease, St Faith is located in a small village in the Cotswolds. The original building was Saxon, but all that remains is the nave and the remains of a doorway. Inside is a memorial to the Stratford family who had owned the manor at Farmcote since 1320; their memorial effigy figures have been cut down to fit the small space, their feet are missing! This quiet rural church is lovely when visited as part of a circular walk from Hailes Abbey.
A real survivor. First recorded in 1250, it was mostly destroyed during the Great Fire of London in 1666, suffered bomb damage during the Blitz of WWII and was severely damaged by an IRA bomb in 1993. Its modern rebuilding stays true to the original medieval appearance. Despite being one of the larger small churches, it is one of the smallest in the city.
Located on the South Downs, this tiny church is the remains of the chancel of an earlier church supposedly damaged by Cromwell’s troops during the English Civil War. The footprint of the original church was uncovered during excavations of 1956 that revealed a tower, nave and chancel, dating to about 1180. There is only room for about 20 inside, meaning that during the Harvest Festival more than half of the congregation is outside.
The first record of this tiny church is in the Domesday Book. It is probably of preNorman origin, although it has been restored many times it still has its original Saxon font. The church seats about 30 people and is very atmospheric as it is lit by candlelight. The church cannot be accessed by road, so visitors must park on a narrow track and then walk a mile and a half through woodland before the church appears.
Built in 1876 by the Earl of Breadalbane for private use by shooting parties, the church earned the name Grouse Church among locals. It has been in almost continual use since then. This tin tabernacle was bought in kit form from a manufacturer, likely to be the London Iron Church and Chapel Company, in which the Earl held shares. Around 60 were built in Scotland, and St Fillans is one of the best preserved and the oldest of the survivors.
Croick was one of 32 churches built in 1827 by an Act of Parliament to bring more places of worship to the Highlands and Islands. Designed by Thomas Telford, Croick holds bleak evidence to the suffering of 80 highlanders evicted from their smallholdings. Men, women and 23 children slept in the graveyard after being forced off their land. One message etched into the window pane of the church simply states ‘Glencal people was in the churchyard here May 24 1845’.
With its clean white paintwork and bright blue door, the church stands as memorial to a remarkable young woman called Janet Campbell. She was the driving force behind the creation of the church in 1840, thanks to her concerns over the safety and spiritual wellbeing of the workers on her husband’s estate. Janet died just seven weeks after the first service was held.
A tiny church nestled amongst seven enormous yew trees, the whole ambience is of calm and quiet holiness. According to legend a vision of the Virgin Mary appeared to a Norman lady whilst she was in the field where the church now stands. Inside there is a tiny gallery and an ancient font.
This little chapel is perched halfway down, or up, a Pembrokeshire cliff, beside a holy well. There is a simple nave, measuring about 4m x 3m, with an opening to a rough cell beyond. It is thought to date from between the 11th and 13th centuries, but there may have been a chapel here in the 6th century, established by St Govan, an Irish monk who legend has it, was being chased by brigands when a fissure opened in the cliff face.