Norfolk comes out top in churches heritage survey
Norfolk has been revealed as the top county in the country for church interiors and social history in a study about church heritage and numbers visiting churches and chapels.
The survey reveals the best counties to explore historic churches, following an analysis of 2,000 churches across 77 counties by the National Churches Trust’s church tourism website explorechurches.org.
Churches were analysed across eight different categories such as interiors; stained glass; churchyards; atmosphere; wildlife and monuments.
The counties that are home to the highest percentage of churches in each of these categories are revealed to provide hotspots for church tourism.
Norfolk: Top for interiors
Norfolk is joint first with Shropshire for the county with the highest percentage of churches with stunning interiors; including furniture, embroidered altar cloths, art, sculptures, carvings in wood and stone and ancient and modern wall and ceiling paintings.
Norfolk: Social History Hotspot
Norfolk has the highest percentage of churches, both old and new, which 63% considered keepers of community history, with links to stories about people, activities and events throughout the years.
Suffolk: Stunning for stained glass
Suffolk is in top spot for stained glass windows, with 72% of its churches being recognised for the people they depict, the stories they tell and their famous designers from pre-Raphaelites to modern day artists.
Bettany Hughes, Vice President of The National Churches Trust, which runs the explorechurches.org website, said: “Our analysis will help tourists and visitors discover the amazing heritage of churches and chapels. We hope it will encourage more people to become passionate about these tremendous buildings packed with memories of human life often dating back over 1,000 years.
“As well as signposting the best architecture, stained glass, and history, our data also includes information on visitor facilities, which allows us to suggest which churches are ‘five star’ attractions.
“Our study shows that churches and chapels offer a tremendous range of unique experiences for visitors including tower climbing, wildlife spotting and even live music. There really is something for everyone.”
Pictured above is the majestic interior of St John the Baptist Catholic Cathedral in Norwich.