Between 21-30 July the silvered oak doors of historic churches and chapels across the country will be thrown open for events including concerts and theatre, Champing™ church camping adventures, historic tours, family trails and craft, tower climbs, art exhibitions and more.
The activity is all part of Church Tourism Week, an annual celebration of historic churches taking place nationwide. The week-long programme of events and activities for all ages is a celebration of our outstanding architectural heritage and an invitation to explore church buildings – and British history – in new ways.
For the first time heritage charities and attractions across the UK are taking part in the celebration, with over 30 participating sites nationwide.
Church Tourism Week includes the chance to:
- Discover Fantastical Beasts and create your own curious creatures at family events in Bristol and Worcestershire.
- Take a tower tour at St Peter’s Church in Sandwich, and get a unique perspective on the Cinque Port town, said to be the ‘most complete medieval town in England’.
- Stay overnight in a church any day of the week – and kids go free – on special Champing™ (church camping) adventure. Breaks are available at churches in Somerset, Kent, Oxfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Shropshire and Lancashire.
- Make your own decorative ‘medieval’ tiles at family activities days in Cambridge, Shrewsbury, York and Sandwich.
- Enjoy Cimarosa’s light-hearted opera ‘The Secret Marriage’ in rural splendour in Wiltshire on Friday 21st July.
- Explore medieval stained glass and traces of the Civil War with a special guided walking tour of Shrewsbury on Saturday 22nd July.
- Wring your hands at Shakespeare’s tragedies King Lear in Bristol or Macbeth in Sussex.
- Hear Worcestershire’s poet laureate perform spoken word and poetry at St Swithun’s Church in Worcester on Saturday 22nd July.
- Uncover art and artefacts from the medieval to the Arts & Crafts movement on a historic tour of Cambridgeshire on Thursday 27th July.
- Learn how to manage churchyards traditionally for wildlife habitat in Shropshire on 24th July.
- Enjoy one-day folk and world music festivals at BromFest in Essex on 23rd July and One Fine Day Festival at Braemar in the Scottish Highlands on 27thJuly.
- Have a go at circus skills including tightwire, trapeze, juggling and more at a family circus taster day in Bristol on 30th July.
Crispin Truman, CEO of The Churches Conservation Trust, the national charity that protects historic churches at risk, says: ‘Church Tourism Week highlights the heritage of our extraordinary ancient churches and chapels, showcasing the fascinating stories, art and experiences they offer and inviting people to explore them in new ways. Churches are often the oldest and grandest buildings in our communities, but more than that they tell the stories of those communities, the people that lived within them and the last thousand years of our country’s history in a way no other buildings can’.
The initiative follows on the footsteps of a £600,000 investment made by the Government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport to develop a number of the trust’s most important churches as first-rate heritage visitor sites. For the first time heritage charities and attractions across the UK are taking part in the celebration, with scores of events over 35 participating sites nationwide. Partners include Circomedia Circus Academy, Caring for God’s Acre, Friends of Friendless Churches and the Scottish Redundant Churches Trust.
For the full events programme visit www.visitchurches.org.uk/ChurchTourismWeek