Church buildings come in many varieties, from old to new, urban to rural, and big to small. In this feature, ChurchDays appreciates the little churches in life: a selection of ten of the smallest Anglican churches in England. We’re starting in the North and heading South…

St Andrew, Upleatham, North Yorkshire

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: for instance, the impression of a filled in archway at the rear of the church suggests that there was once a south aisle that has been demolished. The church was replaced in 1835 with the building of a new church to the north of the village, the only feature to move from the old church to the new being a 12th century rectangular font with carved sides.

The old church itself is now closed, but the churchyard is open for visitors to look around and admire this tiny gem.

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St James, Dalehead, Lancashire

Next up is the remote church of St James at Dalehead. A church was first consecrated in this area in October 1852, but had to be moved stone by stone up to its current location to make way for Stocks reservoir during the late 1930s. The church built from the remaining stone was much smaller. The church refurbished in 2007 and is known for being only the second church to install a wind turbine, which it uses to power its heating and lighting.

Its graveyard is a Biological Heritage Site in Lancashire with over 130 different species of upland meadow plants, and the church’s location within Gisburn Forest is an Area of Outstanding National Beauty. This makes it a fine resting point with great views across the forest for any visitors to the area.

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St James, Fordon, East Riding

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, having been built between 1086 and 1115, and celebrated its 900th anniversary in 2015 with a visit from the Archbishop of York. During the event, the church revealed that they had worked with the local brewery to produce their own beer in celebration – the Fordon 900.

The church holds communion every first Sunday of the month, and is still used by the community for open days, weddings, and baptisms.

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St James, Drayton, Leicestershire

This small church located in the middle of the village green only has one room and is the smallest in Leicestershire. Originally medieval, the church became disused after the Reformation, and while it was out of use it served as the village bakery. Having changed ownership in 1878, it was demolished and rebuilt in the same style.

It is still used for services on Sundays, with chairs inside to seat 20 people.

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St Faith, Farmcote, Gloucestershire

A Grade I chapel of ease, St Faith is located in the small village of Farmcote in the Cotswolds. The original building was Saxon, but all that is left of that church is the Saxo-Norman nave and the remains of a doorway. Excavations in the late Victorian period found remnants of a semi-circular chancel, but there is no trace of this above ground. Inside is a memorial to the Stratford family who had owned the manor at Farmcote since 1320; their memorial effigy figures have obviously been cut down to fit the small space inside of the chapel, as their feet are missing!

This quiet rural church is best visited as part of a circular walk from Hailes Abbey, as recommended by Britain Express.

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St Ethelburga-the-Virgin within Bishopsgate, London

This City of London church is a 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 of the church, and the building retains its Grade I listing. Despite being one of the ‘larger’ small churches on our list, it is still one of the smallest in the City.

The church is open for visitors and worship and today calls itself a centre for reconciliation and peace.

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The Good Shepherd, Lullington, East Sussex

Located on the South Downs Lullington’s tiny church was formed from the remains of the chancel of an earlier church which was 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. The original dedication of the church is unknown, so it was dedicated as the ‘Church of the Good Shepherd’ by the Bishop of Lewes in 2000.

There is only room for about 20 inside, meaning that during the Harvest Festival more than half of the congregation has to be accommodated outside. The church holds a Sunday service every third week of the month from April to September as there is no electricity for light or heating in the church. The church is open to visitors daily from 9am to 5pm.

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St Swithun-upon-Kingsgate, Winchester, Hampshire

Unusually, this church is located above the medieval King’s Gate, meaning that the only entry to the church is via a narrow staircase accessible from St Swithun Street. It is one of the last remaining ‘gateway churches’ in the country. First recorded in 1264, the church is built in the Early English style of Gothic architecture, with a light interior and mostly Victorian furnishings. The church’s dedicated saint, St Swithun, was born in Winchester and was the first to be buried inside Winchester Cathedral, having been moved in from underneath the pavement outside the old minster.

The church is used for Holy Communion every second and fourth Sunday and evening prayer every first and third Sunday. Normally, the church is open to visitors in the daytime from about 9am until sunset.

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St Beuno, Culbone, Somerset

The first record of this tiny church is its appearance in the Domesday Book. It is probably of pre-Norman origin, although it has been restored many times. The church seats about 30 people and is very atmospheric as it is lit by candlelight, and it still has its original Saxon font. The church itself is Grade I listed and the cross in the churchyard is Grade II*.

The church cannot be accessed by road, so visitors must park on a narrow track and then there is a mile and a half walk through woodland before the church appears. Despite the difficulty of access, regular services are still held at this church and visitors are welcome.

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Bremilham Church, Cowage Farm, Wiltshire

Holding the Guinness Book of World Records title for ‘England’s smallest church in use’, Bremilham Church is located near to Malmesbury in Wiltshire, and only has room to fit a single four-person pew, or about ten people standing. The Reverend Malcolm Ross has said that “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, the Reverend says that usually 50 people turn up to the services, which take place outside come rain or shine.

It is hotly debated whether this is also the smallest church in the UK, as St Trillo’s chapel in Rhos-on-Sea, Wales, is also a strong contender for the title!

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