Whatever your passion; art, wildlife, sculpture, family history, architecture, walking, rock climbing, searching out the most perfect cream tea or even just finding somewhere quiet to sit and read a book. These are all things you can do in church buildings around the UK.

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Hadrian’s Wall

For around three centuries, Hadrian’s Wall was a vibrant, multi cultural frontier sprawling 73 miles coast to coast. It was built by 15,000 men in under six years and milecastles, barracks, ramparts and forts punctuate a dramatic and diverse landscape. The best evidence for Christian practice dates to the 4th and 5th centuries, with a few church locations and objects found. Later, Christianity flourished under the kings of Northumbria. The Tyne Valley is known for its fine concentration of early churches, many built with stones recycled from the wall, arguably the best surviving concentration north of the Alps!

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Heavenly church cafes

What better excuse for a slice of cake than being able to enjoy some of Britain's most beautiful and historic buildings at the same time? The churches featured here are just a selection of some our favourite church cafes: we can assure you that there are many more excellent options for you to visit and many more excuses for cake, if you need one!

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Twelve church days of Christmas

Churches in Britain comprise the greatest collection of historic buildings and works of art that our country possesses. From the grandest cathedral to the tiniest parish church, they are filled with innumerable treasures, illuminating every facet of our nation's history. We wanted to see if there was anything that couldn't be found inside one of our churches, so we have set ourselves a Christmas challenge: to see if we can find everything mentioned in the song The Twelve Days of Christmas. All together now! On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

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Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens was one of the most prolific writers of the 19th century and his works are considered classics of English literature. Born in Portsmouth in 1812, Dickens was one of six children. His father worked for the Navy but was summoned back to London in 1822. The family fell into debt, and his parents and siblings moved to Marshalsea debtors prison. Dickens stayed with a friend and worked to reduce the debt. These experiences inspired many of his novels and his wizened and impoverished characters. Churches often appear in his life and works. Dickens was particularly taken with Unitarianism and attended a chapel on Little Portland Street for many years, including the time he wrote ‘A Christmas Carol’. Unfortunately nothing remains of the chapel now, but here are some of his churches.

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Lincolnshire remembers

The new International Bomber Command Memorial stands on Canwick Hill to the south of Lincoln. Anticipating the opening of its visitors centre next year and to coincide with the season of Remembrance, this list of churches are just some of those which have connections with the RAF heritage of Lincolnshire and air crew from many countries who are commemorated by memorials and war graves. Lincolnshire is known as Bomber County due to the many RAF Stations, allied air forces and their crews stationed here.

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Church architecture awards 2017

Each year the National Churches Trust and the Ecclesiastical Architects and Surveyors Association are inviting entries for two top church architecture awards. The King of Prussia Gold Medal is awarded for innovative, high quality church conservation or repair work projects. The Gold Medal was the gift of King Freidrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia in 1857. The Presidents Award is for the best new church architecture, new buildings and re-ordering, alterations or extensions, on behalf of the presidents of NCT and EASA. Here are this year’s winners and highly commended churches… they are all worth a visit to see some of the best church architecture today.

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Memento mori

An ossuary is a chambers for storing human bones. They range from a box to whole buildings, and often came about when burial space was scarce. However, throughout ancient and medieval times displaying and maintaining the bones of the deceased was also a way to honour the dead and visiting them is a fascinating reminder of mortality, one of the only certainties in life. There are only two remaining ossuaries in the UK, but more common are the Memento Mori found in and around churches across the country.

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Beer festivals

The church has a rich and tasty relationship with beer. The beers brewed by religious orders were often richer and higher in alcohol than those drunk everyday, perhaps to sustain the monks during fasts. In Britain medieval church houses hosted ‘church ales’ to raise funds. They were banned by Oliver Cromwell and many became ordinary alehouses. To this day ancient churches are often near an old pub. Today’s beer festivals, bringing together local craft ales in unique surroundings, can be seen as a step back in time to the medieval church ales. Welcome to the land of hops and glory!

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Cumbria has a history of invasion and settlement; the Romans, Anglo Saxons, Vikings, Normans and Border Rievers have each left their story in our church buildings. Characteristically small and simple, yet not without beauty and grace, they reflect the socio economics of a rural landscape formed of lakes, mountains, coastline and border frontiers. The Anglo Scottish war (c1296-c1513) curtailed the Decorated and Perpendicular styles, yet retained Norman influences. 18th century prosperity, Victorian growth and romanticism contributed to the county known as the land of lakes and fells, Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter.

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Heritage Open Days 2017

With over 1,000 events involving churches joining Heritage Open Days, there are hundreds of exciting activities happening this September. Equally, we think it is important to share heritage with everyone, and are proud of the number of family friendly events on offer over the weekend. To highlight these events, and encourage all the family to discover the heritage of their local parish, we have put together a list of our favourites.

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