English Churches... theyre everywhere!

Discussion in 'Travel' started by PandaLOVE, Dec 25, 2008.

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  1. At one church a day it would take you nearly 103 years to visit every one of the 37,501 churches in England, many going back nearly 1300 years.

    Pointless thread unless you have anything interesting to add. Having just found out I personally find 37,501 mind boggling, I thought it was nearer 2000 but that may be 2000 English castles.

    Check out Brixworth and Escombe.

  2. There is at least one in every village. Strange that.

    I wonder which came first?

    [Pedant on]I assume that these 37,501 belong to the Church of England? Which leaves the churches and chapels belonging to the RC, Baptist, Methodist, Evangelical, Jewish, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, and We Worship Small Furry Animals all uncounted.[\pedant off] :D

  3. Please don't spoil the Daily Wail's rhetoric... it should read Mosques Are Everywhere.
  4. IIRC it's inclusive of all denominations less Muslim but I'll check on that after I've washed and wiped all the Christmas dishes.

  5. In essence 'nominal' church going, or what you might call, religious-Christian observance has been in decline for 100 years. Roughly at the rate of 1-2% per decade.

    However, it's leaving faith-based, or more authentic expressions of the Christian-faith growing, here in the UK and many other places.
  6. Many early churches were built by Lords/rich land owners in obscure locations for those that lived on their land to come and worship. Other churches were built around settlements. Early settlements being straw and mud huts then later timber framed dwellings would have dissapeared while the church, being made usually from the finest building materials locally still stand today. Very often you see a Saxon church surrounded by buildings from the Middle Ages and later. So the answer must be that they went hand in hand hundreds of years ago but in todays landscape the Church must be deemed to have been built first.
  7. msr

    msr LE

    What is the average age of the church goer?
  8. Close but not quite. Most early churches and we are now talking those of the wooden variety and then replaced by stone were actually built on other places of worship, ie: roman temples, pagan sites to signify that from now on there will be only one god to worship.

    Churches were primarily built villages and above, that is why if I recall correctly, Hamlets and Mantons do not usually have places of worship as the residents(!) were expected to travel to their local church.

    As an aside, ever wondered why the really old churches are next to pubs?

  9. Nationally, isn't it around the forties (all those choir-boys in cathedrals ;) )? Not as old as you'd imagine.
  10. Untouched by developers so far, the scene of graverobbing, bodysnatchers, in 1778 a murder even. There, criminals' corpses were suspended in iron cages in the Churchyard until they rotted away, a process which took seven years. Also, one chap is buried standing up, and there's a grave containing Captain Furneaux, Tobias (1735 - 1781) navigator, who twice circumnavigated the globe, Furneaux had solid achievements in two lengthy Pacific voyages.

    The graveyard has been cleared and the gravestones made into footpaths, and steps, the rest line the walls of the churchyard, which is also a Plague pit.

    The place is a fantastic eerie site when you recall the history and events and a walk around there with the g/f at night on a dare, is well worth the shivers.

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  11. I live in a small village in Wales and we have at least a dozen churches. They're all those different flavours - a bit like the People's Front of Judea, Judean People's Front, Judean Popular Front and so on.... methodist, presbyterian, baptist, catholic, 7th day adventist, anglican, CW - and people slag off Sunni and Shiites!
  12. I'm referring to churches that we see today that have been standing for hundreds of years rather than churches that stand on former sites of worship. I didn't mention this but my angle is the appreciation of their architectural excellence from pauper like appearance to almost Cathederal like stature like the Holt Trinity at Long Melford.

  13. Sorry, I was being ironic in my first post!

    For the most part, I do not believe that a church or a chapel came first; there would have been a small community around a farm, a rich landowner or a settlement that developed because of a geographical feature. Within that community would have developed the need for a religious focus; initially pagan, it would have been acquired or tolerated by the Romans, and then absorbed into the wave of early Christianity c850AD.

    For an example of the first community, I can think of Alton Barnes in Wiltshire, which I think is believed to have been built on a pagan site. The yew trees there pre-date Christianity, reportedly.

    I don't know of any churches built by rich landowners, but the monasteries, ruined or not, are a perfect example of ecclesiastical buildings that might not have been built on any previous chapel. The church (note the small "c") was sufficiently rich and powerful in 800-1200AD that it could afford to build anywhere it wanted! Agriculture and wool were the basis of their enormous wealth and there are many beautiful examples still standing 6-800 years later. I can think of Prinknash Abbey, Burford Church and others. This was also the period when many tithe barns were built, and there are some beautiful examples of those still around. This was also the peak period of the influence of the masons and the guilds, which were developed to protect the interests of their members!

    As for geographical features, anywhere that forced travellers to rest or that provided some protection to the local community led to the establishment of a settlement. For example, I understand London initially developed around the lowest crossing point on the Thames which was, at the time, a sodding great marsh! I'll trust the view of historians on that one, but if you look at Salisbury, and most of you will have the 50,000 map to hand, you can see that the Romans conquered the prehistoric fort of Old Sarum and used it as their own fort for a while whilst building their network of roads in the area. Much later, it was decided that Old Sarum was getting a bit tired, so the Bishop decided to decamp to New Sarum(c1150AD IIRC). But New Sarum would not have been suitable as a site for a city and the largest cathedral in the country until the water meadows had been constructed and the marshes at the confluence of five rivers had been drained.

    All settlements needed a religious focus and one would have been built by the local population. Whether that focus was pagan or early Christian is immaterial as it would have provided a place of worship for those who lived in the area. Initially of wood, these chapels were slowly converted to stone as the wealth and influence of the Church expanded and grew (and we are really talking about the Roman Catholic Church from c850AD until the 16th century and Henry VIII's small argument with the Pope).

    Hundreds of years later, the peasant's houses of wattle and daub have all gone, leaving behind only the much extended and rebuilt stone churches of the last 1000 years, and the later brick and stone houses of the great and the good, who could afford to build with such materials in close proximity to the church, the centre of town and the pub! Sometimes, however, the whole village has vanished, leaving the church marooned in a sea of fields. I can think of Budbrooke near Warwick and a small church to the NE of Barrow in Furness as good examples of those. It has been suggested that the Black Death might have played a major part in the collapse of those villages. The Plague would have been one factor, but the success of settlements throughout the country has waxed and waned over the centuries as the success of agriculture/trade/mineral extraction has waxed and waned. Without owners and without maintenance, the houses would have fallen to bits, and been recycled; but the church lived on.

    What I find fascinating about all of this is that these churches were built by men who could reasonably expect to live for no more than 30-40 years. Several hundred years later, most of these buildings are still standing whilst modern man, who can reasonably expect to live until he is 70-80 years old, is incapable of building anything that lasts for more than 10 years. There has to be a lesson for us in there, somewhere!

  14. Excellent post Litotes, thanks. I also find fascinating that the common man, serf, labourer would have built these enormous, wonderous buildings some of which took many years to build, often beyond their own lifetime. They would live in the most basic of dwellings whilst building in the name of God buildings of luxury beyond their imagination.

    Maybe I'm strange but I like walking through a graveyard and reading the headstones and wondering if those buried are distantly related to those that built the churches and have long since gone. I look up at a building, pick out a stone and imagine that a man put that in place and there it has remained. If buildings could speak.