Trend: Britain’s Converted Churches
Across Britain, abandoned churches have been brought back to life in magnificent and rejuvenating ways; whether you choose to stay overnight, watch a theatre show, or enjoy a coffee in the morning, transformed churches in Britain offer it all.
Dine and drink in a church
Mercato Mayfair, London
Mercato Mayfair, one of London’s most vibrant food markets, is located in the spectacular Grade-I listed St Mark's Church, just off Oxford street. The market is known for its sustainable and authentic food offerings from around the world, and is spread over two floors of the church. As well as a wine cellar and community space, the venue also offers a rooftop terrace for the sunny days overlooking the rooves of Mayfair.
Alma de Cuba, Liverpool
Alma de Cuba is a spectacular restaurant and bar due to its setting inside the glorious conversion of the former St. Peters Catholic Church. The church closed in 1978 and was the first one in the city to be turned into a social venue. Alma de Cuba offers an eclectic mix of Cuba, Hispanic, and Latin American influences enhanced by Liverpool’s great spirit.
Frankenstein Edinburgh, Edinburgh
This 150-year-old Gothic church is home to the bar ‘Frankenstein Edinburgh’. The church is located on George IV Bridge in Edinburgh’s Old Town and is in close proximity to popular tourist destinations along the Royal Mile. Visitors can expect a party with monster shows, flashing lights, and screenings of old Frankenstein movies in the horror-theme decorated venue.
The Brasserie at Òran Mór, Glasgow
The Brasserie at Oran Mor is a hidden gem serving a wide variety of modern Scottish dishes in a vibrant setting. The talented chefs use only the very best fresh, local and seasonal produce, attracting foodies from all around. The in-house Whisky Bar invites you in to stay after dinner to try their enormous selection of whiskies.
Church on the Hill, Glasgow
Church at the Hill is located in the trendy southside of Glasgow. The bar and restaurant support the local community by using local produce wherever possible. The venue celebrates the greater side of Glasgow with wholesome roasts on Sundays and romantic candlelit evenings, with delicious cocktails off their creative menu.
CHAPEL 1877, Cardiff
The vibrant restaurant Chapel 1877 is spread over three floors of the Gothic church, and is a fine dining venue in the heart of Cardiff. Fresh seasonal classics are served daily and one of the highlights on their menu is the bottomless brunch offer on Sundays. The elegant setting and relaxed atmosphere within the renovated historic building creates the perfect location for a luxury dining experience in Cardiff.
Enjoy a coffee in a church
Host Café, London
The welcoming community coffee shop Host Café serves speciality coffee, organic soup and locally baked cakes. You can drink coffee with a conscience as they give back to the community by supporting local businesses: their coffee and tea are supplied by the local producers Mission Coffee Works and Nemi Teas; and the baked goods are delivered by Galeta Bakery – all London-based makers.
The Pantry, Cardiff
The beautifully renovated Cornerstone church has been converted into the lively coffee shop ‘The Pantry’, which has original stained-glass church windows to create an authentic atmosphere. Aside from tasty tea and coffee, the modern venue serves delicious food such as homemade soups, paninis and delicious cakes.
Sleep in a church
St Bartholomew's Church, Lower Failand, near Bristol
For those who want to camp somewhere special for a night, Bartholomew’s Church is set in the picturesque countryside, less than an hour away from Bristol using public transport. Far away from the hustle and bustle of the city, a tranquil stay is guaranteed; and there are many public footpaths and Ashton mountain bike trails close-by. The church is open between April and September.
The Church at the Old Manse, Lanark (between Edinburgh and Glasgow)
The Church at the Old Manse serves at the perfect base to explore what central Scotland has to offer, as Glasgow and Edinburgh can both be reached in less than an hour by car from the church. The luxurious self-catering property sleeps up to ten people and has a sauna to relax, as well as a galleried snooker area for unlimited fun with loved ones.
Visit a different type of church
Iris Theatre, London
Based in St. Paul’s Church in Covent Garden, Iris Theatre invites visitors to enjoy award-winning theatre spectacles in a unique surrounding. A wide variety of performances take place in the former church from classical theatre to circus-style acrobatics. During the summer months, immersive outside performances take place.
A green oasis in the heart of the city, St Dunstan in the East Church Garden is a wonderfully serene place. The original church was severely damaged in the Blitz of 1941 and the decision was made to not rebuild St Dunstan’s. In the late 60s the city of London turned the remains into the public garden with benches and a fountain.
St Luke’s Bombed Out Church, Liverpool
St Luke’s Church, known locally as the ‘Bombed Out Church’, suffered catastrophic damage during the May Blitz of 1941, leaving only its external masonry standing. In the early 2000 the site was transformed and opened up again to the public. Having become an established venue for theatre, dance, classical and world music, visual art and much more, the site now stands as a testament to community spirit and the power of the arts to affect change.
For more information contact:
VisitBritain Media Teampressandpr@visitbritain.org