Whether you’re hitting a beach abroad or exploring the UK’s own amazing landscapes, the summer can be a great time for time off. And what better way to unwind than by diving into a good book. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of wonderful books to add to your summer reading list. They range from thick history volumes to more picturesque page-turners. But what they all have in common is their appeal to church-lovers. So, here are the perfect books to accompany you wherever you are this season.
Discover treasure this summer
The Treasures of English Churches: Witnesses to the History of a Nation by Matthew Byrne
Matthew Byrne's luxuriously illustrated book reveals the stunning treasures of England's churches and invites readers to share his forty-year long passion for photographing and exploring these unique buildings. With many surviving the upheavals of war, plague and reformation, this book is a vibrant testament to the enduring power of uplifting art and human ingenuity.
You can get your hands on a free copy of The Treasures of English Churches by becoming a Friend of the National Churches Trust today.
Cathedral Treasures of England and Wales by Janet Gough
Cathedrals are monumental constructions, representing the greatest effort of Christian dedication in our landscape. They also house the most important objects associated with Christianity. In this volume, 50 of these astonishing artefacts from the cathedrals of England and Wales are brought to life, with their stories told by the deans and senior clergy. Ranging from dials to glass and boots to books, the treasures covered here are simply mesmerising.
Take a deep dive into the fascinating history of churches
Late-Georgian Churches by Christopher Webster
Described by Reverend Dr William Whyte in the Church Times as “truly original work”, Late-Georgian Churches by Christopher Webster is a fascinating study of churches built between 1790 and 1840. Although many of these buildings were eclipsed by the Victorian efforts that followed, this was a time that encompassed great social change and creativity in architectural design. In Webster’s book, the design experimentation behind Late-Georgian Churches, including the so-called ‘Commissioners Churches’, are uncovered and celebrated.
A Thousand Fates: The afterlife of medieval monasteries in England and Wales by Richard H. Taylor
Richard H. Taylor’s book tells the compelling stories of medieval monasteries following their abrupt dissolution at the hands of King Henry VIII. Their fortunes have been mixed, with some foundations having found alternative use, some celebrated as ruins and others gone entirely. This delightfully-illustrated book explores them individually, in great detail.
Be inspired to get crafty
A Church Near You by Denis Dunstone
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.
Buy a copy of A Church Near You from our online shop to help support UK churches. All proceeds of the sale of this book will go to the National Churches Trust and the Church Conservation Trust to help keep churches in every corner of the UK open and thriving.
Kneelers by Elizabeth Bingham
Elizabeth Bingham's charming history of the embroidery of kneeler cushions is a celebration of the most widely – but an often overlooked – folk craft of the past 90 years. The book examines a range of these furnishings and what they can tell us about the local social history of their makers.
Exploring the UK one page at a time
Steeple Chasing by Peter Ross
Award-winning writer Peter Ross sets out to tell the stories of Britain's churches, and through them a story of Britain. This book celebrates all that churches have to offer, venturing beyond the stone and timber to capture the essence of what makes these buildings so special to so many.
Welsh Saints from Welsh Churches by Martin Crampin
Guiding the reader through Welsh Churches, Martin Crampin offers a look at the imagery associated with Welsh Saints. Although much of the original medieval culture depicting these men and women has been lost to time, a great deal was produced during the Victorian era, which forms the main focus of this fantastic book. If you’re interested in understanding more about the history and mystery of religion in Wales, this is a great place to start.
The one to take around churches
How to look at stained glass: A guide to the church windows of England by Jane Brocket
If you’re planning on visiting a church this summer, why not bring along this marvellous companion to help you enjoy it? Stained glass is a fantastic art-form to experience, as it is accessible and vibrant. But it can be mysterious at times as it is rarely accompanied by information boards. Jane Brocket’s comprehensive guide covers the major periods, styles and common details, allowing you to fully appreciate the beauty of stained glass windows.
Bonus book: If your mind needs a break
Country Churches Colouring Book by Zen Doodles
What could be a more beautiful scene to colour in than a charming church in a rural landscape? This book features 40 such images – from quaint chapels to larger-than-life churches – all to help you relax and to give your mind a break.
There are so many reasons to love churches that are captured in the pages of these books. Make the most of your summer by immersing yourself in one or more of these incredible reads.