Here are a dozen that we've seen (with links to previous posts where relevant) in alphabetical order:
I remember well the first time I went into the Church of St Mary the Virgin in Arkesden. We were having a long period of wet weather, but I decided to go for a walk anyway. I arrived, tired and muddy, and it immediately started raining. I sought shelter in the church porch and decided that, having found the door open, I'd take off my filthy boots and pad around inside in my socks. I'm glad I did as there were a series of interesting monuments inside. I went back a couple of years later when the sun was shining and found a picture-perfect village with many thatched cottages.
Ayot St Peter
The pretty little church at Ayot St Peter is not as old as the others included here, having been built in 1875. It's usually kept locked, but on National Heritage Days it is open so that the public can enjoy its beautiful Arts & Crafts style interior. I made certain to go on one of those days last September and you can see the photos here.
The village of Barrington stands just a few miles from home. It's a very picturesque place with cottages all around its huge village green, one of the largest in England. It's very much part of its community, something which I tried to show here by including the road, road signs and man walking his dog in the photo. It was once the parish of the learned and eccentric Rev Edward Conybeare, some of whose curious tales about the Cambridge colleges I wrote about here.
St Leonard's Church in Bengeo is just about the most perfectly preserved Saxon/Norman church you're ever likely to find. It stands, not in deep countryside as you might expect, but on the edge of the town of Hertford. It owes its preservation to the Victorian family who had just enough money to repair it, but not enough to start knocking it about and "improving" it.
Despite being not far from a main road, Clothall Church has the feeling of being a secret, as well as a sacred, place. It may be that its obscure position saved it from the attentions of the Protestant iconoclasts who may have passed by without stopping to destroy the ancient stained-glass windows, which can still be viewed inside.
This ruined church is usually known as Cold Christmas church, from the unforgettably-named hamlet nearby, though it actually belonged to Thundridge village which slowly migrated over the centuries down to the main A10 road and left the old church isolated. So when a new church was required it was built nearer to the houses. All that remains here is an ivy-clad tower and stories of witches and ghosts - quite a place on a foggy morning!
Deep in the Suffolk countryside is a group of three tiny, little-known, but nevertheless fascinating churches. I visited all three in the course of a pleasant walk back in November 2014. The church at Onehouse looks the most ancient, while that at Shelland is unique in that it's painted pink with bright red beams inside. The third of them is the lovely thatched church at Harleston.
Lavenham church is one of the most magnificent churches you're likely to find anywhere. It was built between 1486 and 1525 with the proceeds from the wool trade, which was huge in the area at that time, and is a fine example of late-Perpendicular church architecture. Despite this it's often missed by visitors to the town who understandably become entranced by the little town of Lavenham itself, which has more half-timbered buildings than any town of its size.
Little Hormead Church is tucked away in beautiful countryside in Hertfordshire. It contains a very old door, though I've never seen it as it was undergoing restoration work both times when I visited. I really must try again as soon as I can.
Long Melford is another "wool church", built when this area was at the heart of Medieval England's biggest and most lucrative industry. Last time I visited I promised that I'd go back when I had more time to look at its Medieval stained glass, though I still haven't got around to it.
Wiggenhall St Germans
The Silt Fens, or Marshland, of North Cambridgeshire and NW Norfolk were also extremely wealthy in Medieval times. About a year ago I visited the four Wiggenhall churches - the ruined St Peter's, the redundant church of St Mary the Virgin, and the still active churches of St Mary Magdalen and St German's. All four churches are full of interest, especially the wood-carving. There are several more churches in the area which I have yet to investigate.
Last, but certainly not least, we come to the church at Woolpit which has many fine features including an angel roof.
I hope you've enjoyed that little saunter back through the past life of this blog, and I hope it won't be too long before I can add a few new posts. I feel that our village churches are one of the great, largely unknown parts of our heritage. They lie scattered, with often just a mile or two between them, all over the country. Most are open to the public throughout daylight hours, others have a notice explaining how you can borrow the key from someone living nearby. Don't be shy, go and take a look. Oh, and don't forget to drop a few coins in the collection box to help pay for the upkeep of these fine buildings.