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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.

St. James the Less, Hadleigh (Essex)

St. James the Less, Hadleigh


I have been staying in London for a few days. It has been very hot so it was good to escape to the Essex countryside today and explore a few places, one of which was Hadleigh. A bustling place on the busy A13. It was unfortunately locked – as many churches seem to be in Essex. There is a church website at which doesn’t give any details of when the church might be open outside of service times. All rather disappointing.


The Church Tourism Study

Welcome to the website of the Church Tourism Study. Here you will find details of some of the churches I have visited so far about 700 now.DSCN0510

The aim of this study is to gain an idea of what is being provided for the many visitors to or churches. This seems to be a growing phenomena and many churches are surprised at just how many visitors they are getting. Our Monday to Saturday congregation is often much bigger than our Sunday one but the provision churches are making for their visitors is patchy. Some are very good and some are very poor. You will find examples of all these here.  There is a bias towards the south of the country because of where I live. The Church Tourism Study is now located in Dorset.

My latest project is a survey of the churches of Hertfordshire and you can find some of these entries here, not all churches I have visited are put on this site. This has been very enjoyable with some interesting churches in this often overlooked county.

In addition, I have been busy sending out questionnaires to several hundred churches up and down the country. This has been providing some fascinating  information about what is actually happening. All this information is being written up for a book on visitor ministry.

I hope that you enjoy looking at my reports and pictures. All opinions expressed are my own. It has never been my intention to denigrate churches but it has become obvious that many could do an awful lot better in this area. It is not hard and the benefits in ministering to our visitors are enormous.Do comment if you wish to or get in touch at