Churches opening their doors for nationwide heritage festival

(Photo: Facebook/Diocese of Leeds)

Churches across England have been opening their doors this month as part of a national celebration of historic sites.

The Heritage Open Days run over the first two weekends of September and thousands of churches have been taking part alongside stately homes, country houses and other places of interest.

The special weekends give members of the public the chance to explore some of the nation's treasures free of charge.

To make the Heritage Open Days possible, the sites are supported by around 40,000 volunteers.

In the Diocese of Leeds, 70 churches have been taking part in the Heritage Open Days. In addition to opening their doors, some churches have been hosting special events such as choir concerts, organ recitals, and bell tower tours. 

Diocesan Buildings for Mission Officer, Sue Booth said the event was an opportunity for churches to begin a conversation with people who might never otherwise come into their buildings.

She is encouraging as many churches as possible to get involved, even if they can only manage an hour or two serving tea and coffee.

'I like to think of churches as the receptacles of the collective memories of their community,' she said.

'When you consider the life events that have gone on within the walls of a parish church it's extraordinary to think that people's histories are wrapped up in the fabric of our churches.

'I think it is very important that churches open their doors. Churches offer a place of sanctuary to people in their busy day-to-day lives. They offer an opportunity to step out of the world and into a place of quiet and calm – and churches are also communities offering hospitality and welcome.'

Visit the Heritage Open Days website for more information about events and participating sites