Understand church buildings

Our Discover Churches pages feature galleries of the UK’s beautiful churches and highlighting their fascinating architectural details.

There is information about church architecture to help you make the most of your visit, identify the things you see and put them in the context of local, regional or national stories and heritage.

Architectural fashions have changed over the centuries and churches have been built in many styles and with varying degrees of decoration. Some are very plain, while others are highly ornate. However, look beyond the beautifully obvious and you will find layers of meaning woven into the very fabric of the building, some obvious, others not so clear.

Churches are alive with images and symbols, but the very building itself is also a symbol to be understood by its congregation, local community and visitors. The original builders of our churches, be they ancient or modern, meant for them to be ‘read’ and understood.

We hope that Discover Churches helps to unravel some of the mystery.

Discover churches


How to read a church

National Churches Trust Vice President, author and presenter Richard Taylor’s 2010 BBC series 'Churches: How to Read Them' examined how the imagery, symbols and architecture of English parish churches have inspired, moved and enraged people down the centuries.

Based on his book 'How to Read a Church', the series provides an excellent starting point to understanding these buildings featured many churches, and is also available as a DVD.

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