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It may come as a surprise that one of - if not the - finest Baroque churches in Britain is not in London, but in rural Worcestershire. It dates from 1735, replacing an earlier medieval parish church which stood a little way to the west. It was built by the then owners of neighbouring Witley Court, the Foleys, possibly for their convenience, but not as a private chapel; it has always been a parish church. In 1747, the interior was transformed by the installation of internal decoration from the chapel at Canons, Lord Chandos' Edgware palace - and the impact is astonishing. Dedicated to St Michael and All Angels, Great Witley Church also boasts the Foley Monument, at 26 feet (8 metres) reputed to be the tallest funerary monument in the country.
The medieval Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Mary the Virgin, Worcester, perches beautifully over the river Severn. It was founded in the 7th century, rebuilt by St Oswald in the 10th century and the present building was begun by St Wulfstan in 1084. The Norman crypt is particularly worth seeing. Worcester Cathedral was badly damaged during the Civil War in the 17th century and has been subsequently restored, notably by the Victorians. It is the burial place of King John, Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales (Henry VIII's older brother) and Stanley Baldwin, three times Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Lacock is one of those places that are almost frozen in another time. In this small picture-perfect Wiltshire village of about 350 souls, there are few overt trappings of the 21st century: no satellite dishes or TV aerials, no yellow lines, and only a small amount of signage – which anyway appears to be easily removable. Blank out the cars and rough-up the road surface a little and you’re transported back to the past, albeit a sanitised version where every building is immaculately maintained. Which explains why Lacock is one of the UK’s premier locations for filming period dramas, like Pride and Prejudice and Cranford. The village is owned by the National Trust.
The first cathedral was completed in 1092 at the now deserted Old Sarum, about 3 miles to the north of 'new Sarum' - modern Salisbury. Work on the present cathedral began in 1220 and was substantially complete by 1320. Salisbury Cathedral is a soaring Gothic masterpiece. It has the tallest church spire (404 feet - 123 metres), and the largest cloister and cathedral close in Britain, houses the world's oldest working clock, dating from 1386) and holds one of four surviving copies of the 1215 Magna Carta. Famously painted by John Constable, among its notable burials is ex-Prime Minister Edward Heath (1916-2005).
St Cyriac was a boy saint and St Cyriac's in Lacock is one of the few churches in Britain dedicated to him. It is a very large parish church, mostly 15th century, on an earlier site and with features from 16th - 20th centuries. The Lady Chapel c1420 is exceptional and the Renaissance memorial of 1566 to Sir W Sharington of Lacock Abbey definitely worth a look. There are some particularly fine carvings, too.
The Callanish (or Calanais in Gaelic) Standing Stones is a complex of 50 stones in a cruciform arrangement roughly aligned north-south, with an inner circle of 13 stones and a small chambered cairn. They date from 3000BC and there are several other prehistoric sites nearby, including 3 additional circles. As with other stone circles in Britain, there is no satisfactory explanation for the purpose of these monuments - though, according to tradition they are petrified giants.
There is a modern visitor centre managed by Urras nan Tursachan (The Standing Stones Trust).