Heritage Open Days: Churches are the heart of our communities

Wednesday 11th September 2019

Thinking about church buildings may spring up a number of mental pictures: magnificent stained-glass features, towering spires and rows upon rows of pews.  What you might not initially think of is the meaning behind the building.  Each of these buildings hold the faith, heritage and vibrant history of a place which has spent centuries sitting right at the heart of communities.

In our diocese alone, there are over 150 churches.  Each of these churches are different. They may be rural or urban, big or small.  Each one has its own story.

Heritage in Rochdale

In Rochdale, St John the Baptist church has been one of the places bringing the community together with almost 200 years of history packed within its walls.

One of the key features of the church is an enormous mosaic which depicts Christ the King.  The mosaic is so complex that it took over a year to complete, and in 1933 it cost around four thousand pounds to create.

The one of a kind mosaic – and the church itself – has remained a constant in the community, standing firm through times of major political, technological and social change.  The whispers of the many people and groups who have passed through the doors of St John’s over the last 189 years remind us of the friendship, solace and sanctuary they may have found at the church and the stories that they themselves carried.

Extending the Hand of Friendship

As we visit our churches, whether that’s for a moment of peace in our busy lives or to marvel at the grand architecture, it is worth remembering the purpose that our churches serve to our communities.  As well as being places of worship, churches are a hub for our local community.  They extend the hand of friendship to homeless people or elderly people facing loneliness, as well as having generations of youngsters passing through as they attend uniformed groups like Scouts or Guides.

Step into the History Books

From 13-22nd September, volunteers will open the doors to thousands of places across England in Heritage Open Days and welcome visitors to experience the rich and diverse cultural heritage of England and its communities.

St John’s RC Church in Rochdale is one of the thousands of places opening its doors and welcoming all to learn more about its history.  A friendly team of parishioners will be on hand to guide visitors around the church, talking visitors through extensive photographs and archives from over the years and offering them their own glimpse into history.

There are always new stories to tell. Heritage Open Days are a chance for communities nationwide to come together to learn, explore and have fun by sharing the treasures on their doorstep.

Look at the opening times for St John’s and the Hidden Gem churches on the Heritage Open Days website.

Photo Credit: Michael Beckwith

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