Knights, abbeys and afternoon tea in Herefordshire and Shropshire

Visitors to Herefordshire and Shropshire this September will have the chance to visit some of the area's finest historic churches.

Five coach tours are being planned as part of the inaugural Festival of Churches on 14 and 15 September.

More than 250 churches are throwing their doors open to host exhibitions, workshops, tours, talks and other events.

"We are really pleased with the number of churches that are joining in and are still signing up," said Anni Holden, spokesperson for the Festival and organiser of the bus trips.

"We also wanted to make it easy for people to get around so have organised five different trips in Herefordshire and Shropshire, including five different churches and a light lunch and afternoon tea."

The tours each have a different theme and will take in different churches in different parts of the counties. They are aimed at people who love history, heritage and the countryside.

The 'Knights and Monks, Lords and Ladies' tour is being led by historian Tim Bridges and starts at the monastic settlement of Dore Abbey and travels to the home of Blanche Parry, Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Elizabeth I at Bacton, with a lunch stop at the Norman Church at Peterchurch, before travelling on to the Knights Templar Church at Garway and the working monastery of Belmont, where the tour will end with afternoon tea.

The 'Quietest Places under the Sun' tour will be led by historic church expert Andrew Pike and visit churches in Leintwardine, Clungunford, Clunbury, Clun and Lydbury North.

"All the tours have been carefully put together to make an entertaining day out, explain churches and the characters who over the centuries have peopled them," said Holden. "We don't want to swamp visitors with erudite architecture but we do want them to appreciate and enjoy the wonderful heritage exclusive to Herefordshire and South Shropshire. We also think lunch and tea will be an added treat".

Herefordshire buses leave at 10am from outside the Cathedral in Broad St. and tickets can be booked at VisitHerefordshire; Shropshire buses leave Smithfield car-park, Lower Galdeford, Ludlow SY8 1RT at 10am and tickets can be booked through Ludlow Visitor Centre. Details of all tour are on the Diocesan website. Cost includes light lunch and afternoon tea. More details of each coach trip can be found at www.festivalofchurches.co.uk or in the visitor centres where tickets can be purchased.

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