TEN churches across south Wales will open their doors from tomorrow as part of an event to demonstrate the importance of churches in Welsh heritage and culture, and as places of spiritual well-being and community engagement.
The Churches Unlocked Heritage Festival, organised by the diocese of Llandaff, will run from 18 to 26 June. The churches, which have been chosen for their historical importance, range from the medieval grandeur of Grade I listed Llandaff Cathedral, to the 1930s Expressionist architecture of St Michael’s, Beddau, near Llantrisant.
Opportunities for visitors include bell-ringing, designing a stained-glass window, and eco-activities in one of the many green-haven churchyards. At St Catwg’s, Neath, visitors can see the “murder stone” commissioned for the grave of Margret Williams by villagers who were outraged by the unsolved mystery of her killing in 1822. Traditional home-made tea and cakes will be on offer.
The churches development officer for the diocese, Sarah Perons, said that, after the closures during the pandemic, the diocese was keen to encourage visiting again. “Churches are some of the most important historic buildings in Wales,” she said. “They are often described as landmarks in place and time.
“They tell the stories not only of their local communities, but also the narrative of the development of art and architecture in a Welsh context. You don’t need to attend church to have an interest in its local history and architecture. You can appreciate the building as an important and beautiful historical landmark.”
Christopher Catling, who chairs the Welsh Historic Places of Worship Forum, said: “Wales has great potential for sustainable tourism based on our rich heritage of historic church buildings. I hope this festival will encourage many more churches and chapels to open their doors in future, to welcome visitors and share the qualities that make church, chapel, and burial ground such special places.”