Churches you can’t miss in the United Kingdom

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Beautiful edifices, towering walls, exquisite frescoes – these are just some of the features of UK’s amazing churches. Steeped in history and featuring fascinating architecture, these Western European churches are a testament to the country’s religious and cultural heritage. Whether you’re visiting the UK on a short trip or already based there, take a turn seeing some of their magnificent cathedrals and quaint chapels.

1. St. Paul’s Cathedral

By Sarah from Slow Travel

Magnificent interiors of St Paul's Cathedral.
St. Paul Cathedral, London
By Sarah from Slow Travel

St. Paul’s Cathedral is a true icon of London, representing the triumph of the British against adversity, having been built after the destruction caused by the Great Fire of London in 1666, as well as surviving two bombing attempts by the suffragettes and the Blitz of World War II.

There have actually been 5 cathedrals on this site since 604 AD, the current incarnation built by Sir Christopher Wren instantly recognisable with its huge dome and ornate interiors. The crypt is home to the great and the good of England, with famous writers, military leaders, politicians and artists all buried on the site.

People flock in vast numbers to the cathedral to see this iconic site in central London, many staying to attend evensong which gives visitors the chance to see the cathedral as an active place of worship, rather than just a tourist attraction.

2. Westminster Abbey in London

By Steph from Book It Let’s Go

Gothic architecture of Westminster Abbey.
Westminster Abbey on a sunny day in London
By Steph from Book It Let’s Go

Westminster Abbey is a must visit Church in England and a great place to learn about British History especially if you only have 24 hours in London.

Westminster Abbey formally titled the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster, is an Anglican church which has been the go-to place for Royal weddings, funerals and the coronation of British Monarchs since 1066 including the most recent funeral of Queen Elizabeth II and the Coronation of King Charles III in 2022 and 2023 respectively.

It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the neighbouring Palace of Westminster AKA the Houses of Parliament, home of the famous clock Big Ben and the smaller St Margaret’s Church which all sit on the River Thames.

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Westminster Abbey has been a place of worship for over 1000 years and still holds daily services which anyone can attend free of charge starting at 7.30am.

Westminster Abbey is also open to the public from 9.30am-3.30pm to view the inside of the Abbey including the Poet’s Corner, The Coronation Chair and The Royal Tombs and tickets to enter and explore Westminster Abbey are £29 for adults and £13 for children.

3. Glasgow Cathedral

By Paulina from the UK Every Day

Interiors of Glasgow Cathedral.
Glasgow Cathedral
By Paulina from the UK Every Day

One of the top churches to visit in Scotland is Glasgow Cathedral, which is also known by several other names such as the High Kirk of Glasgow, St Kentigern’s Cathedral, or St Mungo’s Cathedral. Situated in the heart of the city, this remarkable landmark should not be missed during Glasgow Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour.

It has a rich history dating back to the 12th century and is built on the spot where St. Mungo, the patron saint of Glasgow was buried. In addition to its historical and spiritual importance, it holds a special place in the hearts of Outlander fans. This iconic European cathedral has served as a filming location for the popular TV series, featuring prominently as the fictional L’Hopital des Anges in Paris. Make sure you grab a Scottish souvenir before leaving.

4. Rosslyn Chapel near Edinburgh

By Soz from TheWingedFork

Side view of Rosslyn Chapel near Edinburgh.
Rosslyn Chapel near Edinburgh
By Soz of The Winged Fork/ Abby’s Hearth

Rosslyn Chapel sits on a hill above Roslin Glen, about 12 kms or 7.5 miles from the center of Edinburgh. William Sinclair started building it in 1446 as the Collegiate Church of St Matthew, and it took a good 40 years to finish. The chapel’s got some really mysterious symbolism and fancy stonework that keeps attracting visitors and artists from all over the world.

The carvings on the chapel’s stones show a mix of Christian, Jewish, Masonic, Egyptian, and Pagan symbols. Some people say it’s connected to the Knights Templar and the Holy Grail, which has of course sparked a ton of theories and legends.

Rosslyn Chapel grew more in prominence after it was featured in Dan Brown’s 2003 book The Da Vinci Code as the central location of the story, and was also a focal part of the movie that followed in 2006.

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5. Liverpool Cathedral

By Paulina from the UK Every Day

Interiors of Liverpool Cathedral.
Liverpool Cathedral
By Paulina from the UK Every Day

One of the best free things to do in Liverpool is a visit to Liverpool Cathedral. This architectural marvel holds the title of being the longest cathedral in the world with an external length of 189m. Designed by Giles Gilbert Scott, Liverpool Cathedral is a magnificent structure that took over seven decades to complete, from 1904 to 1978.

It is also ranked as the fifth-largest cathedral in the world. Standing at a height of 101 m, it is not only one of the tallest non-spired church buildings worldwide but also the fourth-tallest structure in the city of Liverpool. Its inclusion in the National Heritage List for England as a Grade I listed building only highlights its architectural and cultural importance.

6. Salisbury Cathedral

Gothic Salisbury Cathedral.
Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury

Salisbury Cathedral is famous across the globe, not only for its stunning example of early English Gothic architecture but also for having the tallest spire in the entire UK, a feat unmatched by other cathedrals whose spires have long since been destroyed. The cathedral also houses the best-preserved copy of the Magna Carta, the 13th-century document that served as a model for the US Constitution, along with the world’s oldest clock and several important tombs and memorials.

This remarkable structure, built in 1220, was completed in just 38 years, a rarity compared to others that were constructed over centuries. This distinct feature makes Salisbury Cathedral uniquely representative of only one period, unlike many others that evolved through various architectural styles over time. Try to visit on a day when the cathedral library is open so you can see the vast collection of 12,000 books.

7. Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey Exterior.
The Abbey Church of Saint Peter, Bath

Bath Abbey is a part of the Church of England and a former Benedictine monastery located in Bath, Somerset, England. This Western European cathedral was founded back in the 7th century as a small church built on the site of a Roman temple, it has undergone many transformations and rebuildings throughout its history.

In 675 AD, King Osric, gave lands near Bath to the Abbess Bertana. In 757 AD, land was given to the friars of the monastery of St Peter in Bath, but King Offa took over the abbey in 781 AD, and it passed through a few hands till in 1088 AD, John of Tours, the Bishop of Wells orders that a new Norman cathedral be built.

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A few centuries later that cathedral was in a bad state and Bishop Oliver King ordered the building of a new one in 1499 AD. This is the church you see today, although it was been closed and left to decay at times, it was restored later.

A mix of Gothic and Romanesque architecture, there’s a lot to see in Bath Abbey. Climb up the 212 steps to the top of the tower, marvel at the 891 flat grave stones called ledgerstones that make up the floor of the abbey, see the Great East window that features 56 scenes from the life of Jesus, or stare in awe at the fan vaulted ceiling. And don’t forget to buy souvenirs from the gift shop.

8. Coventry Cathedral

Coventry Cathedral Courtyard.
The Cathedral Church of Saint Michael, Coventry

Called Coventry Cathedral, the original Cathedral of St Michael has been through a lot. Built between the late 14th and 15th centuries, it went through various stages and was also destroyed during the reign of Henry VIII. In 1918, it was transformed from a simple parish church to a magnificent building. That cathedral building was destroyed in the 1940 bombing of Coventry, but today you can still see the ruins next to the new one that was build after World War II.

If you visit, make time to see the Charred cross made from remains of the cathedral and Jacob Epstein’s 1934 sculpture of Christ in chains. Climb up the 180 steps of the Tower for amazing views of the surrounding and make sure you visit the Blitz Museum to get a glimpse of what life was like in Coventry before the Blitz in 1940. Entrance is free, but donations go towards the upkeep of the cathedral.

This is a work in progress list of the must-visit UK cathedrals. There are many that still need to be added. If you would like to contribute, ping abby@abbyshearth.com

Other Posts About Churches You Might Like:

Pinterest images of Westminster Abbey and Glasgow Cathedral.
Pinterest images of St Michael's Parish Church, Linlithgow, Coventry Cathedral Courtyard andSalisbury Cathedral.
Pinterest images of St Paul Cathedral and Liverpool Cathedral.

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