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Norfolk Coast

I don’t seem to have put anything on this site for a while for all sorts of reasons, but here goes!

I had a trip today up the Norfolk coast.

First stop St. Mary’s, Hemsby

This is a delightful church which is open every day. Inside, it is light and airy and well cared for.

There is a votive stand to light candles, a prayer board to use as well as a simple church guide at only 50p. But the real gem here is the Priest’s room above the south porch. This is set aside for private prayer and is a lovely space with a really prayerful atmosphere – picture below. Well worth a visit.

Next up was –

St. Mary’s, West Somerton

Another lovely church.

This is also open each day. It features some displays on work that has been undertaken here and is a simple country church.

There is also the tomb of Robert Hales, know as The Norfolk Giant – there is info about him in the church. Again, well worth a visit.

Next onto a real gem – All Saints, Horsey

I have been past here lots of times but never called in. What a treat I was missing. This is one of most atmospheric churches I have ever been in. Opening the door is like stepping back in time. There is a display about some restoration work, also the 1953 floods – which focus heavily in this area as it was hereabouts that the North Sea broke through. This church gets lots of visitors (17 in the visitors book this month). Go and have a look, you won’t be disappointed.

Then onto another gem St. John’s Waxham

This is an iconic building on this coast but things are not looking good for it. It is now in very poor repair and there are signs warning people from approaching as masonry is falling off. I don’t think this church is in regular use now – it is hard to see where a congregation would come from as there are only a few houses around here.

Then, lastly, St. Margaret of Antioch, Sea Palling

You really sense the nearness of the sea in this area. The church is down a lane, but signposted from the coast road.

There is a brick floor here – quite unusual – and it is another simple and wonderful church. There are several lifeboat memorials on the wall that record various ‘call outs’ as we might now call them. There is a prayer request book but only 2 visitors in the visitors book this month – it deserves more.


Church visiting in a pandemic

Church visiting in a pandemic


As I write this, churches are slowly beginning to open up for private prayer and for worship in the aftermath of the Covid 19 pandemic.

On the face of it it isn’t a good time to visit churches but they do deserve our prayers and our support at this very difficult time. I offer these pictures as a record of what is going on.

I have been to St. Peter & St. Paul in Fakenham, Norfolk. It is a church I have visited before but things are very different at the moment. For a start, the main door isn’t open. I was greeted by the sign above and went around to the chancel.

Another sign set out what was happening.



Inside, only the chancel was open, and this was set out for private prayer – with some good ideas on a sheet to be taken away. Chairs were set out well apart.DSC00031

Another example is at Little Walsingham – a place usually busy with visitors and pilgrims in the summer. This year is very different. The Shrine is only open from 10am – 3pm .

St. Mary and All Saints Church was open but many things had been moved away. It was still possible to light a candle but there were no prayer cards etc – there is usually a good display here.


Also, the pews have signs to indicate where to sit.

All very different!

St. Thomas, Salisbury


St. Thomas, Salisbury – in the heart of the delightful city and open each day.

This church has recently been reordered to a very high standard. It is a stunning space. On the day of my visit there were tow friendly stewards in attendance. There are guide books + some laminated guides (some in different languages) as well as postcards.


There is a prayer board to use, along with a leaflet giving some suggestions for prayers to use.

On the church website (a very informative site) there is a link to a mobile phone guide. See which is very good indeed. Some of the visitor information is a bit ‘buried’ in the website but you need to look under’ History and Heritage’ to find things. When you get there it is very good indeed.


Overall, this is a very good church to visit and a lot of thought has gone into welcoming people through the glass doors which look out onto a busy street.


St. Michael & All Angels, Aston Clinton

St. Michael & All Angels, Aston Clinton

St. Michael’s sits in the heart of Aston Clinton, a village that is growing as much of the Aylesbury area is. It is clearly signposted off the road through the village and it is refreshing to find a church with such a clear and welcoming sign.


Here is a picture of the exterior.


Inside it was warm and welcoming. There are some of the Oxford Diocesan leaflets on Prayer and Pilgrimage. There was also a simple guide, which is very well produced, and various other leaflets. The visitors book is well used which is always a good sign. There is also a ‘children’s corner’


There is a book for prayers as well as a prayer box but these could do with be labelled as it is not obvious how to use these if needed. There is also a votive stand for candles to be lit.


A lovely, welcoming church on a cold day in November – often not the best time to visit churches. The church website is at  and this clearly says that the church is open each day.

St. Michael & All Angels, Steeple

St. Michael & All Angels, Steeple


Tucked away in a fold in the hills of Purbeck lies the hamlet of Steeple. It is a tiny place but you can see in the field opposite the church where other houses used to be. It is certainly a place of peace and quiet.


St. Michael’s was open and, stepping inside, revealed a lovely barrel vaulted roof as well as a beautifully kept church.

There is a simple prayer board and box to put requests into. There is a guide for sale and a booklet on ‘The American Connection’ (have a look at for more on this). Some postcards and cards are available as well.

All in all, a simple country church in a wonderful spot. There isn’t a sign outside but this is no passing traffic – you have to seek this place out, and this is well worth doing. But don’t take my word for it – go and look for yourself! There is also an old barrel organ from the church at Tyneham. This does work apparently and must be wonderful to hear and see in action.dscf3116.jpg

There is a website – – this has much of interest but no visitor information.

St. George, Damerham

St. George, Damerham


Tucked away and rather off the beaten track, St. George’s is well worth seeking out. They are keenly aware of their history here, especially of the many local men who fought and died in the first world war.DSCF3106

There is one of the perspex outlines sat in a pew to signify those who didn’t return from that long ago conflict.


Also, a display on a side altar and a large poster which gives biographical details of all those who died in that conflict.

Even without all this, this is a church which is very much rooted in it’s village community and has a lovely atmosphere of peace and calm, as well as of history. There is a guide book for sale (which you can find online at but no church website which is a pity.

Well worth seeking out.



I recently spent a few days in Ilfracombe, a hilly town blessed with 3 Anglican churches, all of them open each day.

St. Philip & St. James, Ilfracombe


‘Pip and Jim’s’ or ‘The Harbour Church’ is in a prominent position in the popular harbour area of Ilfracombe. There is a welcome sign outside and it is a church well worth looking into. Inside, I found some good prayer ideas set out with some prayer ribbons to use (to remember loved ones) and some things to take away and a book in which prayers can be put – all placed in a prominent position.


Children’s work was also displayed and this is a church which actively prays for the town – there was a display about this too. There were 40 + entries in the visitors book for October so far.


All in all an interesting church to visit. The church website at – doesn’t have any visitor info on it.

St. Peter’s, Ilfracombe


St. Peter’s sits high above the town and it is quite a climb up to it! Again, there is a welcome board outside. Inside, there is a flexible space which gets used for all sorts of events as well as for worship.


St. Peter’s has a ministry of praying for peace and there is a good display about this with some prayers to take away. There was also a good welcome leaflet as well as one about the stations of the cross to be found here. A prayer board and votive stand are both well used.


There is a website at but it is still under construction and doesn’t have much on it. St. Peter’s is a church that is well worth a look.

Holy Trinity, Ilfracombe


Holy Trinity is also open each day. There is some building work going on at the moment there. Again, there is a welcome board outside. Inside there is a guide book @ £2 and some post cards for sale. Some ‘bats’ giving details of the church and some cards also to carry about. One interesting feature here is that the loose leaf visitors book asks for suggestions on how the church could develop it’s ministry to visitors. I have not seen this done before. It is also placed on a table in the porch so you can’t ignore it!


This is a very good idea and shows that this church takes it’s visitors very seriously.


There is a good prayer display again (with a focus on bereavement and remembering) with some leaflets and prayer ideas to take away. Also a votive stand to use. The church website at has clear visitor information.


It is so refreshing to find a town in which all the churches are open for visitors. It is often just one of two. Each church is worth a visit and they are all holy places which are available for the pilgrim, tourist or local who just wants some time with God.


St. John’s, West Bay

St. John’s, West Bay, Dorset


St.John’s is a relatively modern church, only dating from 1936. It is right at the heart of the small and increasingly popular community of West Bay. It is open every day although it could probably do with a sign outside to direct people in.


It is a lovely little church with a definite nautical theme! – as befits the situation it is in next to the small harbour. I counted 44 entries in the visitors book this month so far. There is an open Bible and lots of ship models about. A ‘Fisherman’s Mission’ display is well thought out.


A pebble pool can be used for prayers…


But there could do with being somewhere for people to leave prayer requests. The church website is at and visitors are welcomed and acknowledged as being important.


This is a wonderful little church in a great spot.

St. Leonard’s, Southminster

St. Leonard’s, Southminster


Southminster is a sleepy little town dominated by the bulk of St. Leonard’s. It is unfortunately locked which seems hard to understand in a place like this. The church website is at but doesn’t give anything away about being open! The church also features one of my pet hates, this sign…


Assuming it is not meant to express irony, it is hard to see how a locked church building offers much of a welcome….

St. Mary the Virgin Burnham on Crouch

St. Mary the Virgin, Burnham on Crouch


This is a lovely church in the delightful small town of Burnham on Crouch. The church was open and provides a peaceful and cool place. It is well signed and easy to find with a welcome notice as well as advertising their Messy Church.


There is a good selection of leaflets available here covering worship, baptisms, weddings and funerals. These are very well written and fulfil a need. There is a guide on sale and a selection of greetings cards as well as mugs, pens, bookmarks, key fobs and tea towels. Some 7 people had put entries in the visitor’s book in the last month. There is also information about the Guild of All Souls (see for details of this).


What is good about this church is the thought that has gone into enabling prayer. Not only is there information about the Guild of Souls, but there is a nice votive stand set in the Chapel of St. Catherine of Alexandria with prayer request cards.


One thing that caught my eye was this sign—-


I have never seen this done before. Here is a church which takes the lectionary seriously! The church website is at which has a lot of information on it but could do with something specifically about visitors.