Denis Dunstone’s fabulous new book, A Church Near You, is out now. Find out what inspired Denis to paint so many churches and how the book supports churches across the UK to remain open and in use.
The beginning of the story
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Denis began painting churches close to his home near Saffron Walden, in Essex. What began as a passionate hobby turned into more when Denis created a little book from his first 50 watercolours, which he sold in local churches.
Then, over the next few years, Denis began venturing further afield.
“I put together this book [A Church Near You] during the Covid-19 lockdown when churchyards were empty and quiet,” says Denis.
“I would go out with a campstool, pen and paper and sit there in the midst of nature, painting in watercolours. Many [churches] were painted on site, but those far from home I painted at home from photographs.”
Churches brought to life
A Church Near You contains several hundred churches painted in spirited watercolour. With chapters arranged thematically, they cover everything from doorways and towers to their layouts. It is a wonderful introduction to England’s historic churches.
An introduction that Denis hopes will inspire people to visit them.
“I want to get more people to visit churches and to make it easy for them to enjoy their amazing history and architecture,” shares Denis.
We cannot let churches become empty ruins
“A parish church embodies communal England,” says journalist and author, Sir Simon Jenkins, in the foreword of A Church Near You.
“[A church] is cherished by all, by worshippers and non-worshippers alike. All would feel a sense of loss were churches to go the way of medieval castles and become empty ruins”.
This is the backdrop to A Church Near You.
Keeping churches alive
“With the Church of England alone being custodians of over 12,000 listed buildings, churches are some of the most precious jewels in our nation’s heritage crown,” shares Denis.
“We must keep churches alive, as they are an amazing historical record and are full of great art and craftsmanship.”
Proceeds from the sales of A Church Near You will raise money to support the work of the National Churches Trust and the Churches Conservation Trust. Buy the book from our online shop today to help keep churches in every corner of the UK open and thriving.
And then, follow Denis’ invitation and set out to discover the beauty of churches for yourself by planning a visit to a church near you.