Opening for visitors
Churches and cathedrals are such a familiar part of our landscape that it is possible to take them for granted. They do, however, make a vital contribution to Britain’s heritage, attractiveness and economy. Whilst by their very nature churches are not commercially-run attractions, some initiatives have already done much to encourage churches to open their doors and to adopt good ‘visitor welcome’ practices. This is not just about buildings: churches are veritable story-boxes, filled with tell-tale evidence of people and events that have shaped our land. For many visitors they remain a mystery, merely a part of the quintessential picture-postcard view. Yet those who venture inside are invariably rewarded and often surprised by what they find - bringing heart and depth to their destination experience. At a deeper level, churches and other places of worship are integral to the story of the places and communities within which they have evolved. They are signposts of our heritage, points where you can touch history, as well as places of visual and spiritual wonder. Andrew Duff, Inspired Northeast
Churches, chapels and meeting houses are treasure houses of heritage, history and community. The potential for them to attract visitors and for visits to be enjoyable and worthwhile is huge. There are over 47,000 Christian places of worship in the UK, over 10,000 faith sites of medieval origin, all built for the same reason but with a unique story to tell and a unique experience to offer local people, visitors and tourists alike.
Every single one has some aspect of architectural, cultural or social heritage significance.
Your church, chapel or meeting house should be open for people to visit.
Churches Visitor & Tourism Association: homepage
National Churches Trust: discover churches
Opening your church and welcoming visitors is not difficult and can be very rewarding. Your church can attract visitors to your area which can boost your income from donations and sales and help the local economy by encouraging people to visit local establishments for lunch etc.
National Churches Trust: creating the perfect welcome
All heritage sites need interpretation.
Telling the story of your building and your community in the context of local, regional and national heritage will not only engage visitors but it will inspire your congregation to explore these stories as well.
National Churches Trust: interpreting your building
Guided tours are a brilliant way for volunteers to share their favourite passions about your building and community.
General tours will always be welcomed by most visitors, but those offering specialist knowledge, or access to normally closed areas will be prized by both visitors and local people.
National Churches Trust: guided tours
Encouraging children and young people to be interested is vital if we are to pass on the care and welfare of our wonderful church buildings to the next generation with confidence for its future.
Children often come along to events and activities as part of family groups. They may also visit as part of a school tour, or event held at the church such as an annual nativity or carol concert.
Welcoming children can be different from taking adults around the church and it is worth spending time to consider how to do this in a way which will make them feel at home, engage them, and encourage them to come back.
National Churches Trust: families and school groups