50 Things to do in a Church
Michael Palin’s ‘Thing’ is Peace and Quiet. ‘50 Things to do in a Church’ celebrates the many and diverse uses of church buildings and asks the public to share their favourite things to do in a church or chapel.
Launched by the National Churches Trust, the UK’s church repair and support charity, The list highlights some of the activities and events that take place in and around church buildings and the many different ways that people use and experience churches and chapels. Finding peace and quiet is one such activity and a particular attraction for former Monty Python performer, traveller, writer and Vice-President of the National Churches Trust.
Michael Palin said:
“Once asked to declare my religious beliefs I described myself as ‘an agnostic with doubts’. However, my interest in and fondness for churches is undiminished.
“Churches and chapels are important for all sorts of reasons. Where some are notable for inspirational architecture, others are commended for their community role and the work they do in bringing local people together.
“Two years ago I was being cross-questioned in a court case in London and during a lunch break in which I was not permitted to talk to anyone, I desperately wanted somewhere to sit quietly and get myself together. And yet there was nowhere where the price of a seat didn’t involve eating, drinking or some commercial transaction.
“Then, out of the blue, at the very heart of Fleet Street, I discovered the church of St Dunstan-in-the West. I was never so grateful for a place of repose, an oasis of peace and quiet in the midst of the mayhem.”
“There are, of course, many other uses for churches and chapels and the National Churches Trust’s ‘50 Things to do in a Church’ – which includes everything from finding the Green Man to helping out at a night shelter – shows clearly why churches are such important local buildings.
“Our churches speak to all of us, even just as a tower on the horizon, a spire amongst the trees. We must do all we can to pass them on to future generations. They are part of our landscape and part of our national heritage. We have to do all we can to make them part of our lives as well.
Watch a video of Palin talking about finding peace and quiet in a church below:
Vital community role
As well as being places of worship, church buildings play a vital role in activities for the benefit of the wider community. It is estimated that nearly 90% of churches are used for community purposes as well as for regular worship.
Included in ‘50 Things to do in a Church’ are activities and things to see and do linked to music and the arts, the spiritual, helping the community, art and architecture, food and drink, history, nature and wildlife, and sport and leisure.
Share online and on social media
The National Churches Trust is asking anyone with their own favourite ‘Things to do in a Church’ to share them online on the National Churches Trust website and on the National Churches Trust Facebook page or on Twitter using the hashtag #50thingsinachurch.
Claire Walker, Chief Executive of the National Churches Trust said:
“ ‘50 Things to do in a Church’ makes it clear that churches, chapels and meeting houses are a tremendous asset to local people and communities throughout the UK.
“The use of church buildings as ‘community hubs’ has the strong support of the public. 83% of British adults think that churches, chapels and meeting houses play an important role for society as they provide a space in which community activities can take place, as well as worship, according to the findings of a 2016 ComRes opinion poll on attitudes to church heritage.
“Of course, ‘50 Things to do in a Church’ is just a small selection of activities that take place in and around church buildings. We’d love to hear from the public about some of their favourite things to do in a church or chapel. People can add to our list and post photographs on our website or by visiting our Facebook page.
“I hope ‘50 Things to do in a Church’ will encourage more people to discover some of the great things that it is possible to do in a church or chapel and explore some of their amazing history and architecture. There is no better place to find a Green Man, light a candle, find the tomb of someone famous or get involved in helping the community.”
The full list of ‘50 Things to do in a Church’ is below, for which there are links to most locations in the Diocese of London, with only but a few exceptions.
Music, the arts and entertainment
- See some comedy
- Sing in a choir
- Enjoy opera
- Watch a film
- See a picture
- Have a night out at the circus
Art and Architecture
- Discover a rood screen
- See historic wall paintings
- Marvel at stained glass
- Find the green man
- See a Misericord
- Watch the bats
- Look at the stars [on the ceiling]
- Discover an ancient yew tree
- Find a stag beetle
- Go birdwatching
- Go to a flower festival
Sport and leisure
- Ring the bells
- Go skateboarding
- Abseil down the spire
- Go to a Yoga class
- Camp out for the night
- Take part in Ride+Stride
Food and drink
- Visit a Farmers ’Market
- Buy Fairtrade chocolate
- Enjoy a nice cup of tea
- Enjoy a nice beer
- Have a cream tea
- Find the church cat
- Climb the tower
- Stand in a triple-decker pulpit
- Try out the organ
- Visit the crypt
- Honour the fallen
- Research your family history
- Take part in a historical re-enactment
- Discover medieval graffiti
- Discover a tomb of someone famous