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Pubs open beer gardens on April 12 – so work up a thirst first with these enchanting rambles

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Restoration day — in England at least — of the ‘ancient, inalienable right of free-born people of the United Kingdom to go to the pub’ . Remember that Boris-ism?

From April 12 (a fortnight on Monday), English pubs and restaurants will be allowed to serve customers, in groups of up to six people, seated outdoors.

We will be able to order drinks served to our tables, with or without whatever food, snacks or nibbles are on offer. Last year’s scrambled ‘substantial meal’ rules, of Scotch egg notoriety, are in the bin.

English pubs and restaurants will be allowed to serve customers, in groups of up to six people, seated outdoors, from April 12

English pubs and restaurants will be allowed to serve customers, in groups of up to six people, seated outdoors, from April 12

English pubs and restaurants will be allowed to serve customers, in groups of up to six people, seated outdoors, from April 12

Open-armed publicans will welcome us to their beer gardens and patios. In the absence of those, it will be OK to set up tables in car parks, or even on street pavements outside their doors. If the weather is not kind, they will be permitted to keep the rain — or even a fierce sun! — off our backs with open-sided covering such as marquees.

Propping up the bar remains off-limits, but many pubs are also doing takeaways. So even if you have not booked a table, other options will include ordering wrapped picnics with drinks in plastic cups.

The new pub rules are part of Step 2 on the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown in England. Getting together outdoors, in groups of up to six or of two households, will already have been allowed under Step 1 from this Monday.

We can finally arrange to meet friends for a ramble and a pint. So here are some top ideas for glorious country walks, ending at a classic English pub.

Wales has become the first UK nation to lift travel restrictions and allow self-catering accommodation to reopen from today, although pubs and restaurants remain closed, probably until April 12, and visitors from across the border are not yet allowed.

Scottish beer gardens could be open for up to four people from April 26, though this date is only ‘indicative’. But to keep thirsts and appetites whetted, we are including a couple of suggestions for both north and west of the border. We can’t wait. Nor, we suspect, can you.

LITERARY ROOTS

Slad Valley, Gloucestershire

A view of the honeyed-stone Gloucestershire village of Slad from Swift¿s Hill. The village is where author and poet Laurie Lee grew up

A view of the honeyed-stone Gloucestershire village of Slad from Swift¿s Hill. The village is where author and poet Laurie Lee grew up

A view of the honeyed-stone Gloucestershire village of Slad from Swift’s Hill. The village is where author and poet Laurie Lee grew up

The ‘Laurie Lee Wildlife way’ starts in Slad, the honeyed-stone Cotswolds village near Stroud where the author and poet grew up, lived, died and is buried. It was from the family home, Rosebank Cottage, wedged into a luxuriant green glade where the trail begins, that he walked out one midsummer morning.

The dreamy loop weaves through five miles of bucolic pasture and woodland punctuated by badger sets and ‘poetry posts’ displaying some of Lee’s locally-inspired verse. Return to the village via Swift’s Hill, crossing the field where the youthful writer enjoyed his cidrous frolics under a hay wagon with Rosie Burdock.

Your Reward: The Woolpack, thewoolpackslad.com, 01452 813 429.

What to expect: Umbrella-sheltered and table-served seating for 36 on the top terrace and 30 more in the garden below. Gastro menu changing daily, with signature ‘mussels-in-cider’ a constant.

A CLASSIC TRAIL 

Grizedale Forest, Lake District

Shimmering lakes and the hunkering fell figure of The Old Man of Coniston, pictured, form the backdrop of a wondrous eight-mile wander through the Lake District's Grizedale Forest

Shimmering lakes and the hunkering fell figure of The Old Man of Coniston, pictured, form the backdrop of a wondrous eight-mile wander through the Lake District's Grizedale Forest

Shimmering lakes and the hunkering fell figure of The Old Man of Coniston, pictured, form the backdrop of a wondrous eight-mile wander through the Lake District’s Grizedale Forest

WHAT’S ALLOWED 

The ‘Scotch egg rule’ will no longer apply; customers can order alcohol without food.

Groups of up to six people from two different households can meet outside.

Propping up the bar will still be off-limits — table service only.

Face masks must be worn when not seated.

Staying at a hotel or B&B overnight will be allowed from May 17. 

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A wondrous eight-mile wander through classic Lakeland scenery, dancing with daffodils at this time of year. The waymarked route is strewn with outdoor sculptures inspired by local artists ‘in response to the landscape’.

The paths plunge, climb and weave through dark forests, and along the bank of a rattling beck. Shimmering lakes and the hunkering fell figure of The Old Man of Coniston, form the backdrop.

Your Reward: The Eagles Head, Satterthwaite, eagleshead.co.uk, 01229 860 237.

What to expect: Seven beer-garden tables of six, plus a couple more places under a gazebo. Others can drink and snack on takeaways.

SHAKESPEAREAN INSPIRATION

Burnham Beeches, Buckinghamshire

Here, in some of Britain’s finest ancient woodland, Felix Mendelssohn found inspiration for his soul-stirring overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Oaks and birches as well as beeches make up mysterious tracts with unexpected names such as Hardicanute’s Moat and Egypt Woods, the latter cut through by a brook called The Nile. All of this just 25 miles west of central London.

From mid-April to late May dazzling expanses of bluebells carpet the forest floor. Dream time indeed.

Your Reward: The Blackwood Arms, theblackwoodarms.co.uk, 01753 645 672.

What to expect: A large marquee with 60 places will be set up. There are more fair-weather tables in the garden and outside facing the common. Gourmet nibbles and pub classics.

CHALK THIS ONE UP

Vale of Pewsey, Wiltshire

The Barge Inn in Honeystreet, Wiltshire. It is near an exquisite stretch of canal towpath patrolled by flotillas of mallards and moorhens

The Barge Inn in Honeystreet, Wiltshire. It is near an exquisite stretch of canal towpath patrolled by flotillas of mallards and moorhens

The Barge Inn in Honeystreet, Wiltshire. It is near an exquisite stretch of canal towpath patrolled by flotillas of mallards and moorhens

From the Vale of Pewsey, the Marlborough Downs appear as a long, steep bank of smooth green. On a circular half-day hike from quiet Honeystreet, climb up Milk Hill, passing the Alton Barnes white horse carved into the hillside. Above, a track follows the prehistoric Wansdyke with some of the best views in Wiltshire, before dropping down to Allington.

The return to Honeystreet is an exquisite stretch of canal towpath patrolled by flotillas of mallards and moorhens.

Your Reward: The Barge Inn at Honeystreet, 01672 851 222, thebargeinnhoneystreet.uk.

What to expect: Canal-side tables will be sheltered by marquees when rain is expected. Or buy a takeaway and sit dangling your feet in the water. New vegan options added to traditional pub fare.

THEATRE OF DREAMS 

Gordale Scar, Yorkshire Dales

The astonishing Malham Cove, one of the sights on a five-mile hike from and back to enchanting Malham in the Yorkshire Dales

The astonishing Malham Cove, one of the sights on a five-mile hike from and back to enchanting Malham in the Yorkshire Dales

The astonishing Malham Cove, one of the sights on a five-mile hike from and back to enchanting Malham in the Yorkshire Dales

Deep in the Dales, this five-mile hike, from and back to enchanting Malham, packs a triple punch of geological marvels. The ‘scar’ itself is a sheer-sided ravine carved by glacial meltwater. A natural amphitheatre forms the astonishing Malham Cove while Janet’s Foss is an entrancing and sublimely set waterfall.

Your Reward: The Lister Arms, Malham, listerarms.co.uk, 01729 830 444.

What to expect: A terrace has room for 80, mostly at tables with umbrellas. More benches on the village green for takeaways and drinks, served through a hatch.

CLAIM TO FAME 

St David’s Head, Wales

Cheers: The wild shore of St David¿s Head in Wales, which is studded with ancient wonders

Cheers: The wild shore of St David¿s Head in Wales, which is studded with ancient wonders

Cheers: The wild shore of St David’s Head in Wales, which is studded with ancient wonders

The Farmer¿s Arms in St David's, pictured, has views of St Davids Cathedral from a sheltered, suntrap patio

The Farmer¿s Arms in St David's, pictured, has views of St Davids Cathedral from a sheltered, suntrap patio

The Farmer’s Arms in St David’s, pictured, has views of St Davids Cathedral from a sheltered, suntrap patio

The finest coastal scenery in Britain? Walk round the windblown, western extremity of South Wales, inhale the salty air and gaze over rocky cliffs, surging surf and gull-swooped Ramsey Island. There is history and mystery too; the route round the Pen Dal-aderyn peninsula, from St Davids, is studded with ancient wonders such as atmospheric St Non’s chapel and well.

Your Reward: The Farmer’s Arms, St Davids, farmersstdavids.co.uk, 01437 721 666.

What to expect: Views of St Davids cathedral from a sheltered, suntrap patio add to the ambience.

BEST OF ALL WORLDS 

Tarr Steps, Exmoor

The Tarr Steps is a stone clapper bridge that probably dates back to the 13th century. You can cross it on a trail that meanders along the banks of the Barle in Exmoor

The Tarr Steps is a stone clapper bridge that probably dates back to the 13th century. You can cross it on a trail that meanders along the banks of the Barle in Exmoor

The Tarr Steps is a stone clapper bridge that probably dates back to the 13th century. You can cross it on a trail that meanders along the banks of the Barle in Exmoor

From Withypool, a trail meanders along the banks of the Barle, through Knaplock Wood. Cross the river via ‘Tarr Steps’ itself: this beautifully-preserved, ancient — probably 13th century — stone clapper bridge is one of a kind. Return through open country and enjoy magical views of the valley and red deer-roamed moors beyond.

Your Reward: The Royal Oak, Withypool, 01643 831 506, royaloakwithypool.co.uk.

What to expect: Covered tables in several huts, sheds and gazebos, plus a beer garden with umbrellas. Also, an outdoor bar in trailer in the car park with a takeaway menu.

WILDLIFE APLENTY

Blakeney Freshes, Norfolk

A five-mile circular sweep, under widescreen skies, from the quayside at Blakeney village. Head out into reed beds and marches that encapsulates all that is special about the north Norfolk coast. The National Trust-managed Freshes teem with sea bird and waders: bittern, redshank and avocets in their myriads. Bring binoculars.

Your Reward: The White Horse, Blakeney, 01263 740 574, whitehorseblakeney.com.

What to expect: A high-end gastropub, big on locally-sourced fish. Just 30 covers under umbrellas. No takeaways.

THE REASON WYE

Offa’s Dyke, Herefordshire/Powys

A section of the history-brimming Offa¿s Dyke long-distance footpath that weaves between Wales and England

A section of the history-brimming Offa¿s Dyke long-distance footpath that weaves between Wales and England

A section of the history-brimming Offa’s Dyke long-distance footpath that weaves between Wales and England 

A history-brimming stretch of the intriguing Offa’s Dyke long-distance footpath. Weave between Wales and England, starting from Gladestry on the Welsh side. In places, the route follows the mounds of the eighth-century Dyke as it crosses open moorland.

A long, lazy loop of the river Wye provides a dramatic change of scenery on the approach to Hay-on-Wye, on the Welsh side. Another option is to end at nearby Clifford, just inside England.

Your Reward: The Old Black Lion in Hay-on-Wye, 01497 820 841, oldblacklion.co.uk, or The Castlefields at Clifford 01497 831 554, thecastlefields.co.uk.

What to expect: The former has a famed menu and is poised as soon as Welsh rules allow. Both have open-fronted marquees.

INDEPENDENT IN SCOTLAND 

Speyside Way, Scottish Highlands

The Speyside Way, pictured, is a 65-mile long-distance footpath. The first six-mile section takes you through Aviemore and into the Cairngorms National Park

The Speyside Way, pictured, is a 65-mile long-distance footpath. The first six-mile section takes you through Aviemore and into the Cairngorms National Park

The Speyside Way, pictured, is a 65-mile long-distance footpath. The first six-mile section takes you through Aviemore and into the Cairngorms National Park 

The Speyside Way is a big, bold 65-mile-long distance footpath through the Highlands and the heart of single malt distilling country. This first, six-mile section is a ramble from Aviemore through the majesty of the Cairngorms National Park. The Way plunges into silvery birch forest and skirts shimmering lochs before dropping to the peaty Spey.

Your Reward: The Boat Inn, Boat of Garten, 01479 831 258, boathotel.co.uk.

What to expect: Wait for Nicola Sturgeon to give the green light. Then sit by the river, nibble local salmon and sip from a mesmerising selection of malt whiskies.

Source: Dailymail Travels

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Where to find the lowest Covid infection rates in the UK – and bag a sublime staycation

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When we are finally allowed to go on self-catering trips in the UK from April 12 (April 26 in Scotland), where will we travel? The answer may be: wherever is possible, as holiday-let firms report that over 90 per cent of properties are already taken.

Competition is also likely to be tough for hotels and B&Bs when they reopen on May 17. Yet there are still options to consider if you dig about. So after a year of pandemic, how do you chose which?

One consideration may be the area’s ‘bill of health’. Here is our guide to the UK’s least-affected spots, using latest Public Health England statistics.

The map above shows Covid cases for the previous seven days correct on March 31, according to Public Health England

The map above shows Covid cases for the previous seven days correct on March 31, according to Public Health England

The map above shows Covid cases for the previous seven days correct on March 31, according to Public Health England 

YOU’RE OK IN ORKNEY 

It is hardly surprising that Orkney, off Scotland’s north-east coast, has avoided the worst of the pandemic. With a mere 71 cases since coronavirus began, it is the least affected local authority area.

Officials hope that by April 26, Scotland’s reopening date for self-catering tourist accommodation, travel to the islands will be allowed. So trips could be possible to see its towering sandstone cliffs, vibrant birdlife, seal colonies and Neolithic sites — including the Ring of Brodgar.

DETAILS: B&B doubles at Stromness Hotel from £95 (stromnesshotel.com).

JURASSIC ESCAPE

West Devon has reported few cases in recent months. And it is encouraging that other parts of the county, including Torridge, North Devon and Teignbridge, have also fared well. Visitors will enjoy walking the South West Coast Path and seeing the Jurassic Coast Cliffs on boat trips. The area is also home to Dartmoor National Park and the Tamar Valley.

DETAILS: Two nights’ B&B at the Bedford Hotel in Tavistock from £180 (bedford-hotel.co.uk).

SEASIDE DREAMS

Seaside fun: Hastings makes for a nice beach break and has charming surroundings towns that are worth exploring

Seaside fun: Hastings makes for a nice beach break and has charming surroundings towns that are worth exploring

Seaside fun: Hastings makes for a nice beach break and has charming surroundings towns that are worth exploring

East Sussex’s historic Hastings, with its traditional seaside attractions, has had a low coronavirus rate in recent months, as has the surrounding area, Rother. Visitors should not skip on a visit to the charming surrounding towns, including Rye, with its many interesting independent shops and close proximity to Camber Sands.

DETAILS: Two nights’ B&B at the Hope Anchor Hotel in Rye from £175 (thehopeanchor.co.uk).

WHERE EAGLES DARE 

The Outer Hebrides has been among the least affected local authorities. For those tempted by the windswept Scottish islands, perhaps a trip to the Isle of Lewis is in order. This is the largest island in the archipelago and a wildlife lover’s dream with golden eagles, red deer and seals.

Lewis is more traditional than most, with use of Gaelic, the peat industry, Sabbath observance, and myths and legends.

DETAILS: Two nights’ B&B at Baile-na-Cille from £150 (bailenacille.co.uk).

HISTORY GALORE 

The Scottish Borders has had a better-than-average bill of health. This Scottish unitary council area has a dramatic stretch of coast and is not far from Edinburgh. Golfers will enjoy a trip to Peebles, where the castle is also worth a visit.

As with many parts of Scotland, abbeys and castles abound, among some great natural scenery.

DETAILS: Three nights’ self-catering at Eyemouth Holiday Park from £219 (parkdeanresorts.co.uk).

WELSH SECLUSION 

Another less-affected area has been the mid-Welsh county of Ceredigion, with its rolling hills, secluded beaches and fine coastal towns. The area’s rural market towns such as Cenarth, with its waterfall and nearby Cilgerran Castle, are full of interest too.

DETAILS: Two nights at Cenarth Falls Holiday Park from £50 (pitchup.com).

COTSWOLDS BEAUTY 

Stunning: The Cotswolds is known for its splendid views and idyllic chocolate box cottages. Pictured is Castle Combe

Stunning: The Cotswolds is known for its splendid views and idyllic chocolate box cottages. Pictured is Castle Combe

Stunning: The Cotswolds is known for its splendid views and idyllic chocolate box cottages. Pictured is Castle Combe 

Cases of Covid have been low in the Cotswolds, where 80 per cent of the region is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Charming Cotswolds villages include Asthall, Bourton-on-the-Water, Burford, Lower Slaughter and Upper Slaughter.

Children will love Cotswold Farm Park and Water Park, while adults will enjoy a trip to The Royal Gardens at Highgrove or Kiftsgate Court Gardens.

DETAILS: Three nights’ self-catering from £209 (hoburne.com).

LOCHS AND CASTLES

Argyll & Bute covers a vast area and is another Scottish region to have been less hit by Covid than other parts of the country. Enjoy the open scenery, the placid lochs and castles.

Inveraray is the place to stay, while those keen on an island adventure (and some great seafood) should look to Oban.

DETAILS: Two nights’ B&B at Brambles of Inverary from £240 (inverarayhotel.com).

GREENER PASTURES

Throughout modern history Cumbria has inspired writers — not least Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Beatrix Potter and John Ruskin.

Eden has had low cases in recent months and this valley, with its river of the same name, is as idyllic as it sounds.

There are some historic villages dating to Viking Times, a scenic railway line from Settle to Carlisle and great walks in the peaceful Howgill Fells.

DETAILS: Two nights’ B&B at Bank House Bed and Breakfast from £144 (bankhousepenrith.co.uk).

SPLENDID ISOLATION

The Shetland Islands, 110 miles off the coast of Scotland, has been barely affected by coronavirus. It’s tricky to get to but those who make the effort will be rewarded. The mainland is full of scenic villages and small farms, while the outlying islands are places to explore historic sites and spot wildlife.

DETAILS: Two nights’ B&B at Busta House Hotel from £254 (bustahouse.com).

Source: Dailymail Travels

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Staycationers desperate to get away tell holiday lets they will pay in cash and hide their cars

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Staycationers desperate to get away over Easter have been telling holiday lets they will pay in cash, hide their cars and arrive at night in bid to avoid getting caught breaking Covid rules.

The owners of self-catering holiday accommodation in the UK have criticised would-be holidaymakers who have asked to book discrete getaways despite the ongoing coronavirus restrictions meaning overnight stays are not allowed.    

Holiday cottages, caravan parks and other self-catered accommodation will be able to welcome guests from a single household as of April 12.

But many holiday-cottage owners claim they are coming under increasing pressure from Brits keen to get away ahead of the Government’s easing.  

Jill Taylor (pictured) owns the South View Lodges at Shillingford St George, near Exeter, said she has received dozens of calls in recent weeks from people desperate for a holiday

Jill Taylor (pictured) owns the South View Lodges at Shillingford St George, near Exeter, said she has received dozens of calls in recent weeks from people desperate for a holiday

Jill Taylor (pictured) owns the South View Lodges at Shillingford St George, near Exeter, said she has received dozens of calls in recent weeks from people desperate for a holiday

The South View Lodges site (pictured) at Shillingford St George, near Exeter, Devon, comprises of five lodges set in six acres

The South View Lodges site (pictured) at Shillingford St George, near Exeter, Devon, comprises of five lodges set in six acres

The South View Lodges site (pictured) at Shillingford St George, near Exeter, Devon, comprises of five lodges set in six acres

Jill said most people do not have genuine reasons for staying, such as travelling for work, with most wanting to celebrate birthdays at the site (pictured)

Jill said most people do not have genuine reasons for staying, such as travelling for work, with most wanting to celebrate birthdays at the site (pictured)

Jill said most people do not have genuine reasons for staying, such as travelling for work, with most wanting to celebrate birthdays at the site (pictured)

Jill Taylor owns the South View Lodges at Shillingford St George, near Exeter, Devon, comprising of five lodges set in six acres.

She said she has received dozens of calls in recent weeks from people desperate for a holiday.

‘They are quite happy to pay cash on arrival. They say they won’t go on any social media platforms and they won’t let anyone know they are here and they will even leave their vehicle parked somewhere in a lay by or a gateway down the road so no one knows they are actually here,’ she added.

Jill said most people do not have genuine reasons for staying, such as travelling for work, with most wanting to celebrate birthdays. 

Sue Jewell (pictured) owns a dog-friendly holiday let in Cornwall

Sue Jewell (pictured) owns a dog-friendly holiday let in Cornwall

Sue Jewell (pictured) owns a dog-friendly holiday let in Cornwall

The owner of a dog-friendly holiday let near Looe, Cornwall, said she had also received pre-April 12 inquiries from people contacting her via Air BnB – including one man who said he wanted to travel down for a ‘house viewing’ in the area.

Sue Jewell, of Boturnell Farm Cottages, said: ‘I have turned that down because I am not comfortable with it…

‘I ended up almost having an argument with the chap with his house viewing who told me yes he could [visit the area], but if I don’t take [the booking], and I am not going to, there are going to be people who do.’

Tourism bosses in the region say they have received numerous complaints from businesses about suspected holidaymakers.

They are concerned about the effect another lockdown would have on their sector.

Visit Devon director Sally Everton said: ‘There are many many properties in Devon that you still can book and you can book them as of today.

‘That concerned me and out of all those I saw only one actually said could you please disclose the reason why you are travelling.’

Ms Jewell, who owns the dog-friendly holiday let (pictured) near Looe, Cornwall, said she had also received pre-April 12 inquiries from people contacting her via Air BnB

Ms Jewell, who owns the dog-friendly holiday let (pictured) near Looe, Cornwall, said she had also received pre-April 12 inquiries from people contacting her via Air BnB

Ms Jewell, who owns the dog-friendly holiday let (pictured) near Looe, Cornwall, said she had also received pre-April 12 inquiries from people contacting her via Air BnB

In a statement Air B&B said during lockdown ‘stays on AirBnB are only available in limited circumstances, in line with Government guidance.

‘This is made clear on our website, which restricts bookings to these legal exemptions.’

Meanwhile Devon and Cornwall police confirmed they are investigating a closed social media group which is allegedly encouraging owners of holiday lets and potential customers to breach Covid rules.

Source: Dailymail Travels

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The Treasures of English Churches: New book shows amazing murals, monuments, relics and carvings

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Explore England’s places of worship and you’ll find masterpieces of design, some of the world’s most beautiful stained-glass windows and a host of astonishing murals, monuments and carvings spanning over a thousand years of turbulent history – as a fascinating new book reveals.

The National Churches Trust teamed up with prolific church photographer Matthew Byrne to document the most miraculous and marvelled treasures inside England’s churches and some of its most eye-catching cathedrals.

The result is The Treasures of English Churches: Witnesses to the History of a Nation (out in May).

It charts the history of England through its unique church furnishings, decorations and artwork, many of which have survived the upheavals of war, plague and Reformation. From stunning Saxon sculpture to masterpieces of medieval woodcarving, the polychrome brilliance of Victorian interiors to the moving memorial legacies of two world wars and the oldest Easter bunnies depicted in medieval stonework, the book is billed as ‘a remarkable window into English history’.

Matthew, who has been exploring, studying and photographing English churches for nearly 40 years, said: ‘I hope this book will help encourage readers to venture out and discover for themselves England’s wonderful churches. Getting more people to visit churches is one way in which these magnificent buildings can be safeguarded for the future, as it helps to show those responsible for funding church buildings that they remain an important and loved part of our heritage.’

Claire Walker, CEO of the National Churches Trust, said: ‘With many church buildings under threat due to the ravages of time and with fewer worshippers to look after them, this book shows the importance of their art and architecture and why this needs to be preserved for future generations.’ Scroll down for some heavenly history.

DORE ABBEY, HEREFORDSHIRE, THE ABBEY CHURCH OF ST MARY: 'The chancel screen inserted in 1630 is one of the largest and heaviest pieces of Jacobean furniture in England, with classical columns, spiky obelisks and heraldry,' writes Matthew. 'Because of the relative scarcity of church building in the centuries following the Reformation, together with a lack of interest in existing buildings and their furnishings and the destructive ‘restorations’ of the Victorians, the quantity of woodwork surviving from this period is not large'

DORE ABBEY, HEREFORDSHIRE, THE ABBEY CHURCH OF ST MARY: 'The chancel screen inserted in 1630 is one of the largest and heaviest pieces of Jacobean furniture in England, with classical columns, spiky obelisks and heraldry,' writes Matthew. 'Because of the relative scarcity of church building in the centuries following the Reformation, together with a lack of interest in existing buildings and their furnishings and the destructive ‘restorations’ of the Victorians, the quantity of woodwork surviving from this period is not large'

DORE ABBEY, HEREFORDSHIRE, THE ABBEY CHURCH OF ST MARY: ‘The chancel screen inserted in 1630 is one of the largest and heaviest pieces of Jacobean furniture in England, with classical columns, spiky obelisks and heraldry,’ writes Matthew. ‘Because of the relative scarcity of church building in the centuries following the Reformation, together with a lack of interest in existing buildings and their furnishings and the destructive ‘restorations’ of the Victorians, the quantity of woodwork surviving from this period is not large’

ST MARY THE VIRGIN CHURCH, ELMLEY CASTLE, WORCESTERSHIRE: ‘A charmingly naive 14th-century lone rabbit built into a wall inside the porch without a context – perhaps a reminder of dinner!’ says Matthew

ST MARY THE VIRGIN CHURCH, ELMLEY CASTLE, WORCESTERSHIRE: ‘A charmingly naive 14th-century lone rabbit built into a wall inside the porch without a context – perhaps a reminder of dinner!’ says Matthew

ST MARY THE VIRGIN CHURCH, ELMLEY CASTLE, WORCESTERSHIRE: ‘A charmingly naive 14th-century lone rabbit built into a wall inside the porch without a context – perhaps a reminder of dinner!’ says Matthew

ST OSWALD'S CHURCH, ASHBOURNE, DERBYSHIRE: 'This monument is one of the most famous in England,' writes Matthew. 'Penelope Boothby, d.1791 aged five years, was the daughter of Sir Brooke and Dame Sussanah Boothby. In life the child was painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Sir John Millais and sculpted in death by Thomas Banks. An inscription is written in the four languages she is said (by her parents) to have spoken. The monument was exhibited at the Royal Academy in London where Queen Charlotte, wife of George III is said to have wept'

ST OSWALD'S CHURCH, ASHBOURNE, DERBYSHIRE: 'This monument is one of the most famous in England,' writes Matthew. 'Penelope Boothby, d.1791 aged five years, was the daughter of Sir Brooke and Dame Sussanah Boothby. In life the child was painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Sir John Millais and sculpted in death by Thomas Banks. An inscription is written in the four languages she is said (by her parents) to have spoken. The monument was exhibited at the Royal Academy in London where Queen Charlotte, wife of George III is said to have wept'

ST OSWALD’S CHURCH, ASHBOURNE, DERBYSHIRE: ‘This monument is one of the most famous in England,’ writes Matthew. ‘Penelope Boothby, d.1791 aged five years, was the daughter of Sir Brooke and Dame Sussanah Boothby. In life the child was painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Sir John Millais and sculpted in death by Thomas Banks. An inscription is written in the four languages she is said (by her parents) to have spoken. The monument was exhibited at the Royal Academy in London where Queen Charlotte, wife of George III is said to have wept’

ST PETER & ST PAUL’S CHURCH, HOWDEN, EAST YORKSHIRE: This, says Matthew, is an example of antique funeral equipment. It’s a late 17th-century parish coffin on an 18th-century trolley – and an early example of recycling, he adds

ST PETER & ST PAUL’S CHURCH, HOWDEN, EAST YORKSHIRE: This, says Matthew, is an example of antique funeral equipment. It’s a late 17th-century parish coffin on an 18th-century trolley – and an early example of recycling, he adds

ST PETER & ST PAUL’S CHURCH, HOWDEN, EAST YORKSHIRE: This, says Matthew, is an example of antique funeral equipment. It’s a late 17th-century parish coffin on an 18th-century trolley – and an early example of recycling, he adds

ST OSWALD'S CHURCH, LOWER PEOVER, CHESHIRE: A medieval chest, ‘amply padlocked to protect church plate and vestments’

ST OSWALD'S CHURCH, LOWER PEOVER, CHESHIRE: A medieval chest, ‘amply padlocked to protect church plate and vestments’

ST OSWALD’S CHURCH, LOWER PEOVER, CHESHIRE: A medieval chest, ‘amply padlocked to protect church plate and vestments’

ST MARY’S CHURCH, WARWICK: ‘This church is home to one of the most famous mausoleums in England,’ writes Matthew. ‘Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, d.1439, is depicted in a very rare brass effigy surrounded by a brass cage on a Purbeck marble chest in the church’s famous Beauchamp Chapel. These monuments of piety cover a period of about 400 hundred years. The dresses and headgear of the lay people are a good record of changing fashions and styles for historians'

ST MARY’S CHURCH, WARWICK: ‘This church is home to one of the most famous mausoleums in England,’ writes Matthew. ‘Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, d.1439, is depicted in a very rare brass effigy surrounded by a brass cage on a Purbeck marble chest in the church’s famous Beauchamp Chapel. These monuments of piety cover a period of about 400 hundred years. The dresses and headgear of the lay people are a good record of changing fashions and styles for historians'

ST MARY’S CHURCH, WARWICK: ‘This church is home to one of the most famous mausoleums in England,’ writes Matthew. ‘Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, d.1439, is depicted in a very rare brass effigy surrounded by a brass cage on a Purbeck marble chest in the church’s famous Beauchamp Chapel. These monuments of piety cover a period of about 400 hundred years. The dresses and headgear of the lay people are a good record of changing fashions and styles for historians’

ST MARY'S CHURCH, LEAD, WEST YORKSHIRE: An early 18th-century two-decker pulpit by a local joiner

ST MARY'S CHURCH, LEAD, WEST YORKSHIRE: An early 18th-century two-decker pulpit by a local joiner

ST MARY’S CHURCH, LEAD, WEST YORKSHIRE: An early 18th-century two-decker pulpit by a local joiner

COVENTRY CATHEDRAL, WEST MIDLANDS: ‘Situated in the baptistry chapel is one of the largest stained-glass windows in the world, rising from floor to ceiling,’ writes Matthew. ‘This abstract composition, created in 1960 by John Piper (1903–1992) and Patrick Reyntiens (b.1925), is among the best English glass of the 20th century. Several darker colours are seen moving towards a central sun with the message “per aspera ad astra” meaning "through hardships to the stars". Following the destruction and damage of many churches and cathedrals in World War II, a new era of modern stained glass brought some vibrant and beautiful abstract designs to the stained-glass tradition’

COVENTRY CATHEDRAL, WEST MIDLANDS: ‘Situated in the baptistry chapel is one of the largest stained-glass windows in the world, rising from floor to ceiling,’ writes Matthew. ‘This abstract composition, created in 1960 by John Piper (1903–1992) and Patrick Reyntiens (b.1925), is among the best English glass of the 20th century. Several darker colours are seen moving towards a central sun with the message “per aspera ad astra” meaning "through hardships to the stars". Following the destruction and damage of many churches and cathedrals in World War II, a new era of modern stained glass brought some vibrant and beautiful abstract designs to the stained-glass tradition’

ST CUTHBERT'S CHURCH AT BEWCASTLE: ‘The Bewcastle Cross of 700–750 AD stands in a remote hamlet in the wide, rolling hills of the Cumbrian border country,’ says Matthew. ‘There is nothing as perfect as this of a comparable date in Europe’

ST CUTHBERT'S CHURCH AT BEWCASTLE: ‘The Bewcastle Cross of 700–750 AD stands in a remote hamlet in the wide, rolling hills of the Cumbrian border country,’ says Matthew. ‘There is nothing as perfect as this of a comparable date in Europe’

LEFT – COVENTRY CATHEDRAL, WEST MIDLANDS: ‘Situated in the baptistry chapel is one of the largest stained-glass windows in the world, rising from floor to ceiling,’ writes Matthew. ‘This abstract composition, created in 1960 by John Piper (1903–1992) and Patrick Reyntiens (b.1925), is among the best English glass of the 20th century. Several darker colours are seen moving towards a central sun with the message “per aspera ad astra” meaning “through hardships to the stars”. Following the destruction and damage of many churches and cathedrals in World War II, a new era of modern stained glass brought some vibrant and beautiful abstract designs to the stained-glass tradition.’ RIGHT – ST CUTHBERT’S CHURCH AT BEWCASTLE: ‘The Bewcastle Cross of 700–750 AD stands in a remote hamlet in the wide, rolling hills of the Cumbrian border country,’ says Matthew. ‘There is nothing as perfect as this of a comparable date in Europe’

ST JOHN THE EVANGELIST CHURCH, SHOBDON, HEREFORDSHIRE: ‘The whole interior including the pulpit is a unique 1752 “Rococo- Gothic” creation of Richard Bateman, a friend of Horace Walpole,’ says Matthew. ‘The lower deck for the parish clerk is no more than a little chair. The velvet hangings are original’

ST JOHN THE EVANGELIST CHURCH, SHOBDON, HEREFORDSHIRE: ‘The whole interior including the pulpit is a unique 1752 “Rococo- Gothic” creation of Richard Bateman, a friend of Horace Walpole,’ says Matthew. ‘The lower deck for the parish clerk is no more than a little chair. The velvet hangings are original’

ST JOHN THE EVANGELIST CHURCH, SHOBDON, HEREFORDSHIRE: ‘The whole interior including the pulpit is a unique 1752 “Rococo- Gothic” creation of Richard Bateman, a friend of Horace Walpole,’ says Matthew. ‘The lower deck for the parish clerk is no more than a little chair. The velvet hangings are original’

ST MARY’S CHURCH, SUFFOLK: ‘This very rare and beautiful altar retable from around 1330 is one of the most miraculous survivals of art of the English Middle Ages,’ declares Matthew. ‘Originally in a local abbey church, it was lost in the Reformation, found again and donated here for its original purpose in 1927. This central section shows, left to right, St John the Baptist with Agnus Dei; St Peter with keys; Crucifixion with Virgin Mary and St John; St Paul with sword; St Edmund, martyred Saxon king killed with an arrow. It is the second oldest retable of its kind to survive the Reformation and one of only a handful in the country. Two others are to be found in Westminster Abbey and Norwich Cathedral’

ST MARY’S CHURCH, SUFFOLK: ‘This very rare and beautiful altar retable from around 1330 is one of the most miraculous survivals of art of the English Middle Ages,’ declares Matthew. ‘Originally in a local abbey church, it was lost in the Reformation, found again and donated here for its original purpose in 1927. This central section shows, left to right, St John the Baptist with Agnus Dei; St Peter with keys; Crucifixion with Virgin Mary and St John; St Paul with sword; St Edmund, martyred Saxon king killed with an arrow. It is the second oldest retable of its kind to survive the Reformation and one of only a handful in the country. Two others are to be found in Westminster Abbey and Norwich Cathedral’

ST MARY’S CHURCH, SUFFOLK: ‘This very rare and beautiful altar retable from around 1330 is one of the most miraculous survivals of art of the English Middle Ages,’ declares Matthew. ‘Originally in a local abbey church, it was lost in the Reformation, found again and donated here for its original purpose in 1927. This central section shows, left to right, St John the Baptist with Agnus Dei; St Peter with keys; Crucifixion with Virgin Mary and St John; St Paul with sword; St Edmund, martyred Saxon king killed with an arrow. It is the second oldest retable of its kind to survive the Reformation and one of only a handful in the country. Two others are to be found in Westminster Abbey and Norwich Cathedral’

ST JOHN THE BAPTIST CHURCH, TUEBROOK, LIVERPOOL: ‘As with Pugin’s church at Cheadle, every available surface of G. F. Bodley’s church of 1870 is brilliant with colour,’ enthuses Matthew. ‘The tie-beam roof outmatches most of its medieval predecessors in bright colour'

ST JOHN THE BAPTIST CHURCH, TUEBROOK, LIVERPOOL: ‘As with Pugin’s church at Cheadle, every available surface of G. F. Bodley’s church of 1870 is brilliant with colour,’ enthuses Matthew. ‘The tie-beam roof outmatches most of its medieval predecessors in bright colour'

ST MARY THE VIRGIN CHURCH, MENDLESHAM, SUFFOLK: ‘In the mid-17th century many medieval stone fonts with were fitted with elaborate wooden covers and canopies,’ reveals Matthew

ST MARY THE VIRGIN CHURCH, MENDLESHAM, SUFFOLK: ‘In the mid-17th century many medieval stone fonts with were fitted with elaborate wooden covers and canopies,’ reveals Matthew

LEFT – ST JOHN THE BAPTIST CHURCH, TUEBROOK, LIVERPOOL: ‘As with Pugin’s church at Cheadle, every available surface of G. F. Bodley’s church of 1870 is brilliant with colour,’ enthuses Matthew. ‘The tie-beam roof outmatches most of its medieval predecessors in bright colour.’ RIGHT – ST MARY THE VIRGIN CHURCH, MENDLESHAM, SUFFOLK: ‘In the mid-17th century many medieval stone fonts with were fitted with elaborate wooden covers and canopies,’ reveals Matthew

LULLINGSTONE VILLA, KENT: ‘Within the house-church in the home of a wealthy 4th-century Christian Roman is the oldest Christian work of art in England,’ reveals Matthew. ‘It is a rare and colourful painting that depicts two people praying with their arms wide open. Vibrant paintings were originally common across walls and screens in churches but were largely destroyed and whitewashed in the Reformation. The very rarity of medieval paintings contributes to their importance, as does the insight they give into the minds and religious attitudes of ordinary people in towns and villages. Medieval painters left few surfaces of stone or wood without colour, although this is very little in evidence today as few examples survive’

ST LAWRENCE’S CHURCH, EVESHAM, WORCESTERSHIRE: ‘Some churches possess memorabilia from previous generations,’ says Matthew. ‘This is a 19th-century glass-sided hand-pulled hearse’

ST LAWRENCE’S CHURCH, EVESHAM, WORCESTERSHIRE: ‘Some churches possess memorabilia from previous generations,’ says Matthew. ‘This is a 19th-century glass-sided hand-pulled hearse’

ST LAWRENCE’S CHURCH, EVESHAM, WORCESTERSHIRE: ‘Some churches possess memorabilia from previous generations,’ says Matthew. ‘This is a 19th-century glass-sided hand-pulled hearse’

PRIORY CHURCH OF ST MARY & ST HARDULPH, BREEDON-ON-THE HILL, LEICESTERSHIRE: ‘The church contains the largest collection of one of the most interesting Saxon sculptures in England,’ reveals Matthew. ‘The subjects and styles are so different as to be clearly by sculptors of different artistic cultures and times. Three saints are carved here, with halos and robes'

PRIORY CHURCH OF ST MARY & ST HARDULPH, BREEDON-ON-THE HILL, LEICESTERSHIRE: ‘The church contains the largest collection of one of the most interesting Saxon sculptures in England,’ reveals Matthew. ‘The subjects and styles are so different as to be clearly by sculptors of different artistic cultures and times. Three saints are carved here, with halos and robes'

PRIORY CHURCH OF ST MARY & ST HARDULPH, BREEDON-ON-THE HILL, LEICESTERSHIRE: ‘The church contains the largest collection of one of the most interesting Saxon sculptures in England,’ reveals Matthew. ‘The subjects and styles are so different as to be clearly by sculptors of different artistic cultures and times. Three saints are carved here, with halos and robes’

PRIORY CHURCH OF ST MARY & ST HARDULPH, BREEDON-ON-THE HILL, LEICESTERSHIRE: A frieze of weird, pot-bellied and horned animals

PRIORY CHURCH OF ST MARY & ST HARDULPH, BREEDON-ON-THE HILL, LEICESTERSHIRE: A frieze of weird, pot-bellied and horned animals

PRIORY CHURCH OF ST MARY & ST HARDULPH, BREEDON-ON-THE HILL, LEICESTERSHIRE: A frieze of weird, pot-bellied and horned animals

ST NICHOLAS CHURCH, BARFREYSTONE, KENT: Part of a Norman wall frieze shows a donkey and a monkey carrying a rabbit in a hod while a crouching man looks on

ST NICHOLAS CHURCH, BARFREYSTONE, KENT: Part of a Norman wall frieze shows a donkey and a monkey carrying a rabbit in a hod while a crouching man looks on

ST NICHOLAS CHURCH, BARFREYSTONE, KENT: Part of a Norman wall frieze shows a donkey and a monkey carrying a rabbit in a hod while a crouching man looks on

ST MARY’S CHURCH, ROSS-ON-WYE, HEREFORDSHIRE: Colonel William Rudhall, d.1651. A royalist soldier dressed in Roman military uniform

ST MARY’S CHURCH, ROSS-ON-WYE, HEREFORDSHIRE: Colonel William Rudhall, d.1651. A royalist soldier dressed in Roman military uniform

ST PETER’S CHURCH, GAYHURST, BUCKINGHAMSHIRE: This marble monument to Sir Nathan Wright, d.1721, and his son is ‘one of the grandest in England’. Matthew adds: ‘Sir Nathan was Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England, which he holds in his left hand. These “Pomp and Pride” monuments are a breath-taking insight into the lives and attitudes of those at the top of 18th-century English society and the art of those who served them in death’

ST PETER’S CHURCH, GAYHURST, BUCKINGHAMSHIRE: This marble monument to Sir Nathan Wright, d.1721, and his son is ‘one of the grandest in England’. Matthew adds: ‘Sir Nathan was Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England, which he holds in his left hand. These “Pomp and Pride” monuments are a breath-taking insight into the lives and attitudes of those at the top of 18th-century English society and the art of those who served them in death’

LEFT – ST MARY’S CHURCH, ROSS-ON-WYE, HEREFORDSHIRE: Colonel William Rudhall, d.1651. A royalist soldier dressed in Roman military uniform. RIGHT – ST PETER’S CHURCH, GAYHURST, BUCKINGHAMSHIRE: This marble monument to Sir Nathan Wright, d.1721, and his son is ‘one of the grandest in England’. Matthew adds: ‘Sir Nathan was Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England, which he holds in his left hand. These “Pomp and Pride” monuments are a breath-taking insight into the lives and attitudes of those at the top of 18th-century English society and the art of those who served them in death’

THE HOLY TRINITY CHURCH, BLYTHBOROUGH, SUFFOLK: ‘Thefts of money from churches were probably as common in the Middle Ages, as today,’ reveals Matthew. ‘At Holy Trinity, Blythborough, there is a strongly built example of a pillar poor-box designed for security in the 15th century’

THE HOLY TRINITY CHURCH, BLYTHBOROUGH, SUFFOLK: ‘Thefts of money from churches were probably as common in the Middle Ages, as today,’ reveals Matthew. ‘At Holy Trinity, Blythborough, there is a strongly built example of a pillar poor-box designed for security in the 15th century’

ALL SAINTS CHURCH, LITTLE KIMBLE, BUCKINGHAMSHIRE: ‘A small church with one of the best collections of wall paintings in England,’ declares Matthew. ‘These show St George and the dragon (with rescued princess behind him) and the entombment of a female saint by an angel. The remains of these are particularly rare and fragmentary as during the Reformation it was easy to obliterate them under a coat of whitewash. Modern maintenance work occasionally reveals traces, and in the hands of expert conservationists these have been painstakingly revealed and conserved’

ALL SAINTS CHURCH, LITTLE KIMBLE, BUCKINGHAMSHIRE: ‘A small church with one of the best collections of wall paintings in England,’ declares Matthew. ‘These show St George and the dragon (with rescued princess behind him) and the entombment of a female saint by an angel. The remains of these are particularly rare and fragmentary as during the Reformation it was easy to obliterate them under a coat of whitewash. Modern maintenance work occasionally reveals traces, and in the hands of expert conservationists these have been painstakingly revealed and conserved’

LEFT – THE HOLY TRINITY CHURCH, BLYTHBOROUGH, SUFFOLK: ‘Thefts of money from churches were probably as common in the Middle Ages, as today,’ reveals Matthew. ‘At Holy Trinity, Blythborough, there is a strongly built example of a pillar poor-box designed for security in the 15th century.’ RIGHT – ALL SAINTS CHURCH, LITTLE KIMBLE, BUCKINGHAMSHIRE: ‘A small church with one of the best collections of wall paintings in England,’ declares Matthew. ‘These show St George and the dragon (with rescued princess behind him) and the entombment of a female saint by an angel. The remains of these are particularly rare and fragmentary as during the Reformation it was easy to obliterate them under a coat of whitewash. Modern maintenance work occasionally reveals traces, and in the hands of expert conservationists these have been painstakingly revealed and conserved’

ST MAWGAN CHURCH, MAWGAN-IN-PYDAR, CORNWALL: ‘The late 10th-century “wheelhead” cross is the most beautiful of the many decorated crosses in the county,’ says Matthew. ‘It is five-feet (1.5m) high with a diminutive figure of Christ in high relief. The other sides are decorated with corded knotwork. Celtic crosses frequently had a circular piece surrounding the intersection of the vertical shaft and the shorter cross pieces – these are the “wheelhead” crosses. They may be relatively plain but were usually carved all over with complex abstract patterns, interlocking forms of ribbons, knots and spirals, together with stylised flora and fauna motifs. The most developed form of cross contained figure sculptures of Christ and the saints’

ST MAWGAN CHURCH, MAWGAN-IN-PYDAR, CORNWALL: ‘The late 10th-century “wheelhead” cross is the most beautiful of the many decorated crosses in the county,’ says Matthew. ‘It is five-feet (1.5m) high with a diminutive figure of Christ in high relief. The other sides are decorated with corded knotwork. Celtic crosses frequently had a circular piece surrounding the intersection of the vertical shaft and the shorter cross pieces – these are the “wheelhead” crosses. They may be relatively plain but were usually carved all over with complex abstract patterns, interlocking forms of ribbons, knots and spirals, together with stylised flora and fauna motifs. The most developed form of cross contained figure sculptures of Christ and the saints’

ST MAWGAN CHURCH, MAWGAN-IN-PYDAR, CORNWALL: ‘The late 10th-century “wheelhead” cross is the most beautiful of the many decorated crosses in the county,’ says Matthew. ‘It is five-feet (1.5m) high with a diminutive figure of Christ in high relief. The other sides are decorated with corded knotwork. Celtic crosses frequently had a circular piece surrounding the intersection of the vertical shaft and the shorter cross pieces – these are the “wheelhead” crosses. They may be relatively plain but were usually carved all over with complex abstract patterns, interlocking forms of ribbons, knots and spirals, together with stylised flora and fauna motifs. The most developed form of cross contained figure sculptures of Christ and the saints’

The Treasures of English Churches (Shire Publications) is published in association with The National Churches Trust, a national, independent charity dedicated to supporting church buildings across the UK with sponsorship courtesy of CCLA Investment Management. For more information, visit www.nationalchurchestrust.org/churchtreasures

The Treasures of English Churches (Shire Publications) is published in association with The National Churches Trust, a national, independent charity dedicated to supporting church buildings across the UK with sponsorship courtesy of CCLA Investment Management. For more information, visit www.nationalchurchestrust.org/churchtreasures

The Treasures of English Churches (Shire Publications) is published in association with The National Churches Trust, a national, independent charity dedicated to supporting church buildings across the UK with sponsorship courtesy of CCLA Investment Management. For more information, visit www.nationalchurchestrust.org/churchtreasures

Source: Dailymail Travels

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