20 February 2017
The vision of the National Churches Trust Website, Explore Churches, is to tell the stories of churches, chapels and meeting houses, and to encourage people to visit and experience them. There are over 40,000 Christian places of worship in the UK with over 10,000 of medieval origin. They were all built for the same reason but each has a unique story to tell.
Churches, chapels and meeting houses are literally 'treasure houses' of heritage, history and community.
They may contain ancient carvings both in stone and timber, traces of wall paintings, green men, wonderful roof bosses, gargoyles and dripstone heads, tombs and monuments, stained glass and more. Very few ancient sites are built in the style of one architectural period, and their history can be traced through the jigsaw of architectural styles.
Churches are also the keepers of community heritage. Churchyards are a veritable ‘who's who' of the area. In addition, they are also keepers of traditions and rites that may have been practiced for generations.
The process of communities building, adapting and renewing their sacred spaces over centuries of social, economic and cultural change has endowed historic churches with more than a patina of age. They are tangible expressions of the evolution of British culture, local heritage, family history and tales of human events and achievements, embellished with architecture, art and craftsmanship.
The potential for churches to attract visitors and for visits to be enjoyable and worthwhile is huge. The UK has a wonderful national collection of churches, chapels and meeting houses peppered across the countryside and nestling in our towns. Perhaps this is why visiting churches (both old and new) is one of the most popular pastimes in the country, and such sites also attract foreign visitors.
Get your Church on the Map
The National Churches Trust would not only like you as a visitor to one of the Churches on its Explore Churches Website, it would like you as a Church too.
Visit the website and find out how your church can become part of the map, part of the story being told.