Religious History

Almost 2000 years before Christ, prehistoric man was building sites for worship in South West England. They worshipped the spirits of land and sea – and the sun.

You don’t have to look far to find our religious past. Methodism was born here. The oldest chapel in the world was built by John Wesley in Bristol in 1739. You’ll discover monasteries, nunneries, abbeys, cathedrals, churches and chapels – of every shape and size – all with unique histories: Crediton – birthplace of Saint Boniface, one of the first Christian preachers in northern Europe. Salisbury Cathedral – England’s tallest spire at 404ft on just 6ft of foundation! Culbone - the smallest church in England at just 12 feet wide.

And where religion leads, superstition will not be far behind. Almost every village, town and city has its own tale. The round houses of Veryan in Cornwall were built so there would be no corners for the Devil to hide!

But religious history is much more than bricks and mortar. It is steeped in legend. When the Romans left, an invasion of saints began. They came from Ireland, Wales and Brittany. Many were surrounded by myth and are immortalised in place names.

In search of the Holy Grail? The cup Christ used at the last supper is said to have been brought to England by Joseph of Arimathea who hid it in Glastonbury Tor. Glastonbury – site of the first Christian church in Britain. Site of King Arthur’s burial ground. Site of Avalon.