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Visitor guide

ExploreChurches offer hundreds of interesting days out visiting some of the best church heritage in the UK.

Art, architecture, walking, cream teas, climbing, sculpture, local history, cycling, letterpress design, labyrinths, stained glass, finding a quiet space, stepping back in time, beer, embroidery and Doctor Who. 

Churches, chapels and meeting houses are 'treasure houses' of heritage, history and community. They may contain ancient carvings both in stone and timber, traces of wall paintings, green men, wonderful roof bosses, gargoyles and dripstone heads, tombs and monuments, stained glass and more. Very few ancient sites are built in the style of one architectural period, and their history can be traced through the jigsaw of architectural styles. Churchyards are a veritable ‘who's who' of the area. In addition, they are also keepers of traditions and rites that have been practised for generations.

Churches show the evolution of British culture, local heritage, family history and tales of human events and achievements, embellished with architecture, art and craftsmanship.

Whatever your passion, we can help you feed it!

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discover our regions

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Sacred Wales

Join us on our exploration of sacred Wales.
Ymunwch â ni wrth i ni archwilio Cymru sanctaidd.

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Hallowed Scotland

The sacred heritage of Scotland stretches back thousands and thousands of years. Relive the past and witness the wondrous monuments that today proudly tell their stories.

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North Country England

A land of dramatic scenery; craggy hills and dry stone walls, stunning lake country and vibrant cities, wide open beaches and ancient heritage.

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Central Middle England

Enjoy royal estates and quaint honey coloured villages. Architectural jewels abound, not least the great cathedrals, battlefield chapels and sturdy churches.

Trails

If feeling the earth beneath your boots or bike is your thing, you are in for a treat!

Here we list a wide variety of walks, rides and scenic drives. They are different lengths and over varied terrains. They visit a wide variety of heritage sites, and often explore the history of the whole area in which they are set. They all link to a well laid out and easy to follow route.

trails

Enjoy our stories

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Edge of the world

by Sarah Crossland
The UK has just over 40 tidal islands, some large, many very small.
The best are home to unique churches and chapels, often with monastic beginnings and built for peace and tranquillity.

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Hidden Catholic heritage

by Elena Curti
It’s amazing how a chat with a colleague over coffee can spark an idea. That is how I came to write my book, Fifty Catholic Churches to See Before You Die.

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Caru dy gymydog

by Caroline Welch
Wales is said to be the castle capital of the world, with more castles per square mile than any other country. But what many people don’t know is that our churches are even older than our castles.

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Dewi Sant

by Caroline Welch
It is the most important day in the Welsh calendar, but who was Dewi Sant?
Dyma'r diwrnod pwysicaf yng nghalendr Cymru, ond pwy oedd Dewi Sant?

Explore our themes

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Nicholas Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor was responsible for six new churches in London, they are his best known independent works of architecture. Each different, each is unique.

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Cathedrals

The great cathedrals of the world represent one of humanity's most glorious architectural and artistic achievements. They are truly wonderful places to visit.

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English snowdrops

Head out on a crisp day to explore frosty landscapes and enjoy beautiful displays; lots of churchyards have swathes of snowdrops!

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Childrens trails

We are working with The Arts Society to add their wonderful children's to our church pages. The number will grow over coming months, but here is a page with all the trails online so far.

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Fun stuff for kids

After months of school work on your kitchen table, you deserve a break.
Each week of the summer holidays we will create a new page of fun things to do in a church or churchyard, or from home.

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.

Inspire me

Find your favourite

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Your favourite churches

Let us know which UK church, chapel, meeting house, cathedral, monastery, or abbey is your favourite. We'll add them to our map!

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Bill Bryson's favourites

Everybody loves Bill Bryson. 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.

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Favourite Welsh walks

Looking for ideas for some amazing walks this year? If you like atmospheric places off the beaten track, Wales’ ancient churches are a great place to start. We asked friends of the National Churches Trust, to recommend their favourites.

How to read a church

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Step into history

All churches, chapels and meeting houses have gone through stages of building and development over time. Discover how to spot these architectural details, and step back in time with us to see how a typical parish church might have looked at various points in its life.

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Spotters guide

Churches are literally 'treasure houses' of history. Learn what to look for, discover the meaning behind objects and architectural features and uncover their historical significance.

Create memories, taking great photos & videos

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Taking great photos

Take lots, all about light, clutter check, chop check, set focus and exposure, get closer, hold steady, hold straight, avoid flash.

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Photo composition

Rule of thirds, leading lines, flat lays, foreground interest, frames in the environment, reflections, birds eye view, worms eye view, symmetry.

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Emotional photography

Faces, seasons, natural wonders, one detail, minimal, hints and intrigue, golden hour, children, animals, your people, candid, panoramics.

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Create great videos

Importance of video, landscape is king, power, hold steady, sound, straighten up, lighting, focus, exposure, background, takes, copyright, model release.

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Inform, entertain, enthuse

Audience, aims, storyboard, script, varying the shot, rule of thirds, cutaways, using text, subtitles, timelapse, slow motion, narration.

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Technicalities

Transferring files, video editing, iMovie, YouTube, Facebook, Facebook live, Instagram, optimising for search, #explorechurches, sharing, QR codes, play in church.

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