Press Release Autumn 2020


For immediate release 27 October 2020

New modern look for ancient church buildings

An initiative backed by the Heritage Lottery Fund is set to put church tourism on a professional footing. Using new branding and technology, a pilot scheme in Herefordshire and Shropshire is serving as a blueprint for churches, which want to make the most of their potential to attract tourists.

“Herefordshire and Shropshire already have active Church Tourism Groups with two hundred plus members between them, churches that already take visitors seriously,” said Jenny Beard, from Herefordshire Churches Tourism Group. “With over two hundred thousand pounds in grant money, we are able to take medieval churches into the twenty-first century.”

The funding will enable the use of contemporary branding, the installation of visitor counters and contactless giving points in selected churches. This will be followed up with a digital marketing campaign as well as the development of popular themed tourism experiences to complement the holiday package that today’s tourists are already familiar with in the two counties.

The first step for the two groups is the introduction of common branding which has just been agreed and approved. Its aim is to have a recognisable ‘look’ for both groups.

“We are very excited about our new branding, which we will be rolling it out to our local member churches and hope that they will soon start opening the doors to the hidden secrets within.” added Anni Calver, Secretary of Shropshire Churches Tourism Group. “It is something we could share with other county groups in the future.”

The project will be carrying out audience and visitor research, to inform church members of what their visitors are looking for and how they can better prepare the best experience for them. Church buildings have been closed during the Covid pandemic but they are already planning to be ready for the new season in 2021.

“We are fortunate locally to have an amazing number of stunning buildings many dating back a thousand years or more, and many examples of significant ones too.” said Jenny and Anni .

“We have a church foundation which dates back to 660AD, a Knights Templar church – think Da Vinci Code - numerous buildings with Saxon origins, a Benedictine Monastery , another designed by Augustus Pugin as well as one of the oldest Unitarian Churches in England. If that is not enough, we also have a splendid medieval chapel that’s been a Greek Orthodox Church since 1997.“ (See Editors Notes below ***)

The branding has been designed by Orphans Press based in Leominster, Herefordshire. The local project has national partners in the National Churches Trust, the Churches Visitor & Tourism Association and the Church Conservation Trust. A national Conference is being planned for October 2021.

Notes to Editors: The following people are available for interview:

Jenny Beard, Treasurer and Vice Chair of Herefordshire Churches Tourism Group HCTG Tel: 01547 540473 Mob: 07891 288613
Anni Holden Calver, Secretary of Shropshire Churches Tourism Group SCTG and Executive member of HCTG 01432 36009 Mob: 07535 841470

Churches can be made available for interviews, filming and photographs and the new icon branding is below.

Sample pictures of Member Churches are available on request from Anni Calver

Brief information an buildings referred to in news release above

***Leominster Priory is built on the site of a monastery founded in 660AD and 1400 years later still has Christian worship on the site.

***St Michael, Garway is a Knights Templar building founded in the 1180s with characteristic round nave and chancel

***Several Churches in Shropshire have Saxon remains – please contact Anni above

***Belmont Abbey was founded in 1854, 25 years after the Catholic Relief Act made it possible.

***Shrewsbury Cathedral was commissioned and paid for by the 16th and 17th Earls of Shrewsbury. Augustus Pugin was the chosen architect but he died in 1852 leaving his son Edward to finish it in 1856.