Over their long histories, our churches have been host to many astonishing events, from famous marriages to infamous murders! The following churches have seen everything from a plane crash to a royal prisoner. Follow the links to visit a church's website or to see it on the map.

Holy Trinity, Bosham, West Sussex

The Bayeux Tapestry (see the banner image above!) shows King Harold Godwinson, who would later die at the Battle of Hastings, visiting Holy Trinity, Bosham, before setting out to Normandy in 1064. The voyage ended in disaster after Harold was shipwrecked at Ponthieu and taken as a hostage.

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St Mary Magdalene, Mitford, Northumberland

In 1216, the village of Mitford was burned by King John in revenge upon Roger Bertram, one of the barons who had forced the King to sign Magna Carta the year before. Many of the villagers who had taken sanctuary in the church were still inside when the building burned... 

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St Michael, Burgh-by-Sands, Cumbria

In 1307, King Edward I - also known as 'Longshanks', and 'The Hammer of the Scots' - died in Burgh-by-Sands on his way to fight Robert the Bruce. Following his death, the king lay in state in St Michael's church.

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St Giles, Little Malvern, Worcestershire

According to tradition, Margaret of Anjou, wife of King Henry VI, was taken prisoner at Little Malvern Priory after the utter defeat of the Lancastrians at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471. The battle was one of the most decisive of the Wars of the Roses, leading to the succession of the Yorkist King Edward IV.

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St Thomas the Apostle, Exeter, Devon

The year 1549 saw a popular uprising in the southwest of England against the new Book of Common Prayer, which had replaced the traditional Latin Catholic rites with new services in English. For his part in the Prayer Book Rebellion, the Reverend Robert Walshe was hung from the tower of St Thomas's church.

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St Helen, Bilton-in-Ainsty, North Yorkshire

One of the most decisive battles of the English Civil War was fought at Marston Moor in 1644, when Parliamentarian forces joined by Scottish Covenanters defeated a Royalist army, effectively forcing the Royalists to abandon the north of England. Following the battle, the nearby church of St Helen at Bilton-in-Ainsty was used to house Royalist prisoners, one of whom carved a cryptic reference to King Charles I above the door.

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The Parish Church of St Helier, Jersey

In 1643, during the English Civil War, this church was hit by cannon fire from Parliamentarians besieging the nearby Elizabeth Castle: the dents in the granite can still be seen, and this is thought to account for the lack of a steeple. The future kings Charles II and James II took refuge in Jersey during the Civil War, and attended services at the church in 1646.

Nearly three hundred years later, the building was used during the German Occupation of Jersey by occupying forces as a garrison church.

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St Dunstan, Snargate, Kent

This ancient church on Romney Marsh has a criminal past. In 1743, a large seizure of smuggled tobacco was made in the belfry, and a cask of ‘hollands’ (Dutch gin) was found under the vestry table! Many of the churches on the Marsh made good places for smugglers to hide contraband goods. It has been suggested that a painted galleon opposite one of the doors let smugglers know that the church was a safe hiding place...

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All Saints, Breadsall, Derbyshire

The interior of All Saints, Breadsall, was severely damaged on the night of June 4th 1914 by a fire allegedly started by militant suffragettes. Mrs Wheeldon, a prominent figure in the suffragette movement in Derby, was said to have admitted the act to a friend, but her responsibility was never proven. It was not the only church fire allegedly started by suffragettes!

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All Saints, St Ives, Cambridgeshire

On 23 March 1918 a Royal Flying Corps aeroplane crashed into this church, demolishing the spire (and killing the pilot).

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