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17 July 2013

The UK's favourite church buildings

The UK's favourite church buildings

To mark its 60th anniversary, the National Churches Trust has revealed some of the UK's favourite churches as chosen by 60 leading figures in politics, entertainment, journalism and academia.

Hugh Dennis, Joanna Lumley, David Cameron, Boris Johnson, Patrick Stewart, Michael Palin, Brian Blessed, Ian Hislop and Terry Wogan are among the 60 well-known public figures who have chosen their favourite church.

At yesterday's launch newsreader and vice-president of the National Churches Trust, Huw Edwards, said of the churches: "They can be sublime buildings or simple structures, they mean different things to different people and that is what this is about. Let's celebrate these places and celebrate what they mean, not just to us as individuals, but to British society – a very important part of our fabric."

Reasons for the choices vary; personal family connections, serenity, rich history, beautiful architecture, community standing and more. Now the public can choose their own favourite church and nominate online and through social media #myfavouritechurch.

The UK's favourite churches initiative celebrates and raises awareness of churches as some of the UK's most important and best-loved buildings and of the continuing need for funding to keep them in good repair for future generations. The National Churches Trust hopes that more people will discover the joys of visiting churches.

Huw Edwards told of how over the last century in Wales religious activity in terms of numbers has declined and that this has made the job of protecting buildings more difficult. He spoke, however, of how churches are often crucial to local life with many buildings acting as community centres, sports centres, drop-in centres, nurseries and more. "The aim is to make the case for maintaining, caring for, and supporting these places of worship. The work of this Trust is really important because we live in a society where people tend to openly question the purposes of churches and chapels and meeting houses."

Churches in the list vary hugely; Quaker meeting houses, majestic city churches, untouched rural chapels or abbeys or modern buildings.

Claire Walker, CEO of the National Churches Trust, said: "The UK'S 47,000 churches are a tremendous asset to the nation. They form an unparalleled network of public buildings which sustain local communities."

Replacing a leaking roof, fixing a leaning spire or repairing stonework can cost thousands and more than a congregation can afford and since 1953 the National Churches Trust has played a part in keeping churches of all major denominations open throughout the UK, providing grants and loans to help pay for urgent repairs.

View all 60 choices and the reasons why they were picked, and share your favourite at www.favouritechurches.org.uk