Churches Conservation Trust summer tours explore Britain's medieval heritage

By Rosie Murphy | 28 May 2013

The Churches Conservation Trust has launched a series of tours exploring the architecture and history of some of Britain's finest historic churches.

a photo of an old stone church set within a pastoral landscape
St Cuthbert's, Holme Lacey© Churches Conservation Trust
Taking place across the country throughout 2013, the tours are designed to offer an insight into the diverse Christian practices of the past 1,000 years as well as the rich social and architectural histories embodied by our ecclesiastical heritage.

Essex’s Rescued from Ruin tour, on June 8, explores three very different sites, all with the saddening similarity of needing the Trust’s critical intervention to prevent them falling into irreparable ruin. Petre Chapel was built in 1857 as a mortuary chapel for the Petre family, but has fallen into decay, affected by theft and vandalism. It is now owned by the Historic Chapels Trust.

Described by the Trust as a “Gothic gem”, it has received grants from English Heritage and the Country Houses Foundation for its restoration. Its spike had to be dismantled in 2012, but the tour gives a sense of how the decorative Gothic-styled church once was, and hopes to become again.

All Saints Church, a “place of peaceful joy” in Vange, and All Saints East Horden, which boats beautiful views of the River Thames from its impressive Tudor upper rooms and is believed to have once housed a resident priest, are also included.

Moving north, in July, the Moors and Wolds tour of North Yorkshire gives a fascinating glimpse into the history of diverse churches in atmospheric surroundings. Encompassing some of the county’s most exquisite houses of prayer, the tour celebrates both the grand and the humble.

St Andrew’s, in East Heslerton, has a 32-metre spire offering remarkable height to its exuberant Victorian interior. Conversely, Fylingdales’ St Stephen’s was a humble fisherman’s church whose tributes and graves dedicated to those lost at sea provide a real insight into the practices and traditions of a community.

The tour’s third church, St Peter’s of Wintringham, is also representative of the church’s impact on a local level with its monuments to the former inhabitants of the sleepy village.

The Trust has saved more than 340 sacred dwellings, which now attract more than two million visitors each year. Working with local people, the aim is to bring churches such as those on the Rescued from Ruin tour back into the heart of their communities.

Monthly tours give a varied view of the impact Britain’s churches have had upon its landscape and its people. Each of the nine themed tours are priced at £40 per person, including transportation to and from a local train station and a light lunch.

See the link below for more information.

More pictures:

a photo of an old church with a large slate apex roof
Church of St Cosmas and St Damian, Stretford© Churches Conservation Trust
a photo of an old small church and churchyrad set within a country setting
St Mary's Wormsley, Hertfordshire© Churches Conservation Trust
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