Slide Shows on Cathedral and Church Architecture - by Michael G Hardy

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Opening of Churches for Visitors

Some Personal Opinions by Michael G Hardy


The most frequent question that I am asked is "How can we visit churches if they are always locked ?"  The days when virtually all churches were open everywhere are certainly only a memory now, and the situation does vary greatly in different areas, however I firmly believe that well over half the Parish Churches in England are open for visitors most days.


There are, of course, various reasons why churches are kept locked.  The main reasons are churches in areas which are particularly prone to vandalism or theft, and churches with particular art treasures which cannot be put at risk without supervision. However here are some other reasons given for individual churches being locked at all times:

There is an increasing awareness that the encouragement of visitors to churches is itself a way of safeguarding them, so they are not isolated all the time, with no-one ever going near them. There are also increasing amounts of technology available to help watch over churches (such as video recording), and the cost of this type of equipment become more affordable as time goes on.


There are also many initiatives, within and without the church authorities themselves, to encourage more visitors to churches. These are taking various forms, some are listed below:

There are, of course, ways in which you can find the details of the churchwardens or the clergy and ask if special arrangements can be made for you to look inside a particular church. However I quite realise that there are many people who enjoy looking at churches, but think they have no specialist knowledge, and would find it rather daunting to make special arrangements


Access to many churches is made available on the Heritage Open Days in September (11th to 14th September in 2008), organised by the Civic Trust. This can be a particularly good way of seeing some town churches, many of which will also organise guided tours. Details of the Heritage Open Days together with county lists of buildings open are available near the time on the web site:


Another way of getting inside a particular church to have a look around, is to look out for any special events there, such as flower festivals, which are becoming increasingly popular in many churches, whether as regular events or for special anniversaries, etc.



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This page last modified on 3rd December 2007