Why visit a church?

  • Celidh at Wakefield Cathedral - Harriet Evans
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Many of the most important historic buildings in England are churches. They have been the centre of worship for the surrounding community for centuries and offer locals and visitors the opportunity to experience wonderful architecture, sit quietly in contemplation or join in community activities.

The vast majority of churches have remained in continuous use since their creation, and are brilliant guides to local history. As well as telling a story of religious and political change, they have also been the sites of some of the most important moments in the lives of local people: their births, marriages, and deaths. These stories are told through a church’s architecture, art and furnishings, and this website will help guide you through them, revealing a rich insight into England’s history.

Nearly all Church of England churches are free to visit and can be found in every town and village. Most are open during the week but in some cases you may need to find a key holder to let you in. You can find more information about accessing churches here.

 

Architecture

The Church of England’s churches include some of the finest buildings in the country, by some of England’s best known architects. They include examples in every architectural style and from every period of English history.

 

Historic Events

In churches you can stand on the site of important events from English history, from gory murders to royal weddings. See TheSpotWhere for more suggestions.

 

Family History

The church was the centre of many people’s lives and remains a guide to their cares and concerns. You can still visit the same building where your ancestors were baptised, married or buried. Glimpses into their lives have often come down to us in the stories we heard as children or old photographs discovered in tattered shoe boxes. Perhaps your ancestors even made it into local legend following some fantastic event? You can choose to share those memories with others and record them for future generations via the Church Heritage Record. Locate your local church and upload your content through the online Forum.

 

Writers, Musicians and Artists

Poets and authors have drawn inspiration from church buildings down the ages from George Herbert to R. S. Thomas, and famous musicians have produced works linked to particular churches. Churches contain many beautiful works of art, from medieval wall paintings to modern windows. Churches up and down the land still host popular concerts and gigs.

You may feel called to prayer during your visit. Churches have been sites of Christian worship for centuries, and hold regular services that you are welcome to join if you wish. Alternatively you are welcome to sit in peace and contemplation. You can find further information on Prayer & Worship here.

 

Whatever your reason for visiting, you are welcome!

Mothering Sunday at Great Leigh by Pat Watkinson

130th anniversary celebration, St James, Gatley - Kara Norbury

Harvest Festival Family Service, St Mary the Virgin, Aldermaston - Michael Fitzmaurice

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