Divine Britain

Divine Britain

Many of you will be history enthusiasts, many of you will enjoy ancient monuments, and many of you will gladly amble away an hour or so looking around some of the captivating churches that are dotted throughout the length and breadth of the UK.

If so, then you may be interested to read about the fascinating work that the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) carries out. They are a national charity, which looks to protect historic churches at risk.

Established in 1969 under Ecclesiastical Law, the charity has saved over 340 of our historic churches for the enjoyment of future generations. These now attract almost two million visitors a year who enjoy architecture, archaeology and art from over 1,000 years of English history.


Have I whetted your appetite? If so, then why not go and look at some of these intriguing buildings yourself this spring and summer. Their website, www.visitchurches.org.uk has a very easy to use locator – just type in your postcode and it will list those divine churches closest to you.

Many of the churches are in town and city centres, whilst many more are in the beautiful villages and countryside across the UK – wherever you are there’s sure to be a church close to you to visit.

Some of the delights that you can explore include a visit to St Mary, the parish church of Stoke D’Abernon, which is home to fine brass memorials of early lords of the manor; considered to be the oldest military brasses in England.

At St Leonard’s in Linley you can find Romanesque carvings of demonic masks and a mysterious ‘green man’ in this near complete 12th century church. While at St Mary Magdalene in Tortington you will find Norman carvings of monsters with beaks, tongues and squid-like tentacles that glare down menacingly at visitors!

CCT 2If that sounds a bit too gory for you and your tastes are a little more sensitive, then St Mary the Virgin in North Stoke is worth a visit just to see the magnificent, early and very rare stained glass window depicting the Virgin Mary, through which the light flows in on a glorious sunny day.

Morally improving

Perhaps another St Mary, this time in North Cockerington, is for you. It’s a medieval church notable for its box pews and morally improving painted texts dating from the early 19th Century.

You’ve probably got the picture by now – there’s plenty to see and discover and to encourage visitors the CCT are running a series of Historical Church Tours across the country from May through to October.

There are nine of these tours scheduled and each one is ‘themed’ in some way – whether this is World War 1, Lords and Gentry, Norman Wayfarers, or From Romans to the Industrial Age, they have been put together with the intention to beguile and intrigue visitors with unknown facts from Britain’s turbulent, religious and at times, controversial past.

Each of the nine tours departs from a named train station, meaning you have no need to drive. You are guided around a selection of churches and then return to the same train station for your journey home.

Tours generally start at 10.00 am and last until late afternoon – a light lunch is also included on each tour.

To find out what’s on and when, visit the CCT website, www.visitchurches.org.uk where you will be able to discover more about the tours and also more about the invaluable work that the CCT does.