In History

St Thomas' Church

Did you know that 21-30 July is Church Tourism Week? This got us thinking about some of the interesting churches and places of worship (both former and existing) that we have around Wiltshire and some of the quirky features and facts that you might not know about them…

Be in awe of a Medieval Doom Painting

Visitors to St Thomas’ Church in Salisbury are in for a treat. Above the chancel arch you’ll see one of St Thomas’ most famous features, the medieval ‘doom’ painting. Originally painted between 1470 and 1500, it was whitewashed during the reformation of the monasteries before finally restored in 1881.

Combine a church visit with a guided walk

The Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) have devised some downloadable walks which encompass Sutton Veny and Inglesham churches. Pack up a picnic, don those walking boots and get exploring. Have a read of our blog on some of the top Wiltshire CCT churches to visit as well.

Check out some of our graveyards

Not your usual tourist destination however there is plenty of history to be found in our graveyards. Look out for Hannah Twynnoy’s grave in the churchyard of Malmesbury Abbey (and discover why she died) or find James Bond creator Ian Fleming’s grave in St James’ Church in Sevenhampton.

Old Sarum from the air

Explore Salisbury’s original cathedral

Old Sarum, on the outskirts of what is modern day Salisbury is the original site of the city and holds the ruins of the original cathedral, we would highly recommend combining your visit to Old Sarum with a trip to Salisbury Cathedral as well!

Malmesbury Abbey

Learn about the history of King Athestan, buried in Malmesbury Abbey

The original King of England, Athelstan, is buried somewhere within the Malmesbury Abbey’s grounds. His original tomb can be found within the Abbey.

Visit an Abbey-come-stately home

Lacock Abbey was founded in the 13th century and was then dissolved in 1539. In later years, Lacock Abbey became the home of the Talbot family and is now under the care of the National Trust. Today you can still wander through the Medieval cloisters which are often used as a filming location (most notably for the early Harry Potter films).

All Saints' Church, Alton Priors (C) Diane Neale LRPS

Find the church with a secret beneath its trapdoor

The small church in Alton Priors holds a secret beneath its trapdoor, a sarsen stone (like the ones used in the construction of Avebury and Stonehenge)!  A yew tree within the churchyard is said to be 1,700 years old as well.

See a family chapel

Within Bowood House, you’ll find a chapel still used for special services and concerts. Built in the early 19th century for the 3rd Marquess, this chapel features a chamber organ, a French Boulle bracket clock and stained glass. Look out for organ recitals that take place here throughout the year.

St Peter's Church, Marlborough

Discover the arts in some of our deconsecrated churches

St Edmund’s Church in Salisbury has been home of Salisbury Arts Centre for many years but still retains a historic feel about the building. Similarly, St Peter’s Church in Marlborough was formerly a place of worship but is now home to a craft shop, café and regular concerts. At various times you can do tours of the tower for fantastic views overlooking Marlborough’s High Street.

Places to stay with links to religious buildings

Like with many parts of the UK, you can often find tell-tale signs of an area’s history by some of the place names. The Old Rectory in Coulston near Westbury, is a Georgian rectory now a B&B, as is another ‘Old Rectory’ at Chicklade. Within Salisbury’s Cathedral Close, you can stay in theological college, Sarum College. Some rooms even offer spectacular views across to the Cathedral.

To find out more about places to stay in Wiltshire, browse our accommodation pages here




  1. TerriWelch
    Can you combine this with the redundant churches leaflets and also Friends of Wiltshire Historic Curches group.

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