10 of the best churches to tour this year: beautiful, historical buildings to discover in the UK

10 of the best churches to tour this year: beautiful, historical buildings to discover in the UK

The following tours (except the pop-up opera) are organised by the Churches Conservation Trust, including light lunch and return travel from the named train station, all for £40. Call 0800 206 1463 or visit www.visitchurches.org.uk/historicchurchtours. Of course, you can go along to any of the churches mentioned in your own time, too.

Patrons and Dynasties

May 7, Worcestershire

This tour takes you from St Swithun’s, to All Saints in Spetchley and St Mary Magdalene in Croome. You’ll see Capability Brown landscape design and learn about the Berkeley family and their estate. Coach leaves Worcester Shrub Hill station at 10am, returns 4pm.

Evangelical Trends in Rural Churches

June 5, Lincolnshire

See 19th Century painted texts at St Mary’s of North Cockerington, enjoy the Victorian charm of St Helen’s at Little Cawthorpe, and some Romanesque and Gothic restoration at St Martin’s of Waithe. Coach leaves Grimsby Town station at 10am, returns 5pm.

Lords and Gentry

June 18, Surrey

Pugin designed the chapel at Albury Park, there are brass memorials aplenty (the oldest military brasses in England) to discover at Stoke D’Abernon, and there’s a Tudor church in Esher that the Churches Conservation Trust describes as ‘an interesting jumble of sandstone and brick’! Coach leaves Esher station at 10am, returns 4.30pm.

From Romans to the Industrial Age

July 23, Shropshire

The church of St Andrew at Wroxeter is built on the Roman site of Viroconium. St Leonard’s at Linley dates back to the 12th Century, whereas St Mary the Virgin of Shrewsbury houses various features spanning from the times of the Saxons to the 1800s. Coach leaves Shrewsbury station at 10am, returns 5.30pm.

Così Fan Tutte

July 25, Leigh Delamere, Wiltshire

St Margaret of Antioch will host the famous Mozart opera this summer. Come for a picnic beforehand at Leigh Delamere House, and bring a cushion for the pews! Please note there is no wheelchair access to the church. Tickets £30, (includes £5 donation to the Churches Conservation Trust and refreshments). Available from Mrs H Tupper, Leigh Delamere House, Chippenham SN14 6JZ, or email h_tupper@hotmail.com. Doors open at 7pm for 7.30pm performance. Visit www.popupopera.co.uk

Memorials and Monuments

August 5, South Yorkshire

One of the major attractions of this tour is the chapel memorial to William Rokeby, Archbishop of Dublin, at the church of St Oswald in Kirk Sandall. There are also 14th, 16th and 17th Century religious monuments to pore over in Wentworth and Throapham. Coach leaves Doncaster station at 10am, returns 4pm.

Town and Country

August 27, Suffolk

Gothic revival, 15th Century glass and Victorian decorations await you on this trip from Halstead to Chilton and Sudbury, that takes in the Holy Trinity, St Mary’s and St Peter’s. Coach leaves Colchester
station at 10am, returns 4pm.

Along the River Wylye

September 10, Wiltshire

St Nicholas, Fisherton Delamere, was rebuilt in the 19th century, whereas St Leonard’s at Sutton Veny was abandoned in the 1860s. See the old schoolroom at St Mary’s, Old Dilton, too. Coach leaves Warminster station at 10.30am, returns 4pm.

South Downs Wayfarers

September 24, West Sussex

St Mary Magdalene at Tortington features Norman carvings similar to gargoyles. Enjoy rare stained glass in North Stoke before heading to St Botolph’s where you’re likely to encounter walkers from the South Downs Way. Coach leaves Arundel station at 11am, returns 4.40pm.

First World War Tour

October 8, Somerset

As this year is, of course, the First World War centenary, it seems fitting for the tour series to end with the golden stones of St Thomas at Thurlbear, and the story of its enigmatic local Captain. Plus, discover records of the men who fought and returned to the village of Ottersey. Note: This tour may not be suitable for those with mobility problems. Coach leaves Taunton station at 10am, returns 4pm.


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