Best of British: 60 things that make Britain great

Imagine you're cut off in a far-off land. What longings would be uppermost in your mind? Here we celebrate those aspects of life that make our islands distinct and beguiling.

42. Parish-church treasures

Elmley Castle 17_100pc1

In all their astounding variety, our parish churches are monuments to the continuity and history of Christianity in our cities, towns, villages and countryside. These remarkable buildings preserve an extraordinary wealth of artistic riches, from tombs to vestments and stained glass to painting. The place of these much-loved buildings in our lives and landscape must never be taken for granted.

‘The old church tower and garden wall Are black with autumn rain
And dreary winds foreboding call The darkness down again’
(Emily Brontë)

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