Britain is full of very old churches like this one, St. Mary's Church in Kent. (Photo by Daniel Bosworth/Visit …
Each of the 10 oldest churches in Britain date from before the Norman Conquest in 1066, although historians cannot always be absolutely certain of the precise dates when they were built.
1. St. Martin's, Canterbury
St. Martin's, dating from 597, is thought to be Britain's oldest church. Standing on a hill a mile from Canterbury, it is one of three churches in the Canterbury World Heritage Site, 60 miles southeast of London, which also includes the ruins of St. Augustine's and Canterbury Cathedrals.
2. St. Peter's, Bradwell-on-Sea
A footpath leads to the sea from tiny Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex, where this ancient church stands in a windy field. The church was built atop Roman ruins in 654, when missionary St. Cedd arrived here to spread Christianity. It's in a remote area and looks rudimentary, but members of the public are welcome to recreate the ancient pilgrimage to its doors, which are open year-round.
3. Greensted Church, Greensted
Greensted Church, Chipping Ongar, is the world's oldest wooden church. It dates from about 1060, according to English Heritage. Archeologists indicate a sacred place was sited here since the 6th century. It's open daily to visitors and worshippers.
4. St. Peter's, Monkwearmouth-Jarrow
Built in 674 and containing early stained-glass windows, the church is part of a complex a pioneering monk built in the Roman style. This was once the monastery of Bede, one of the ancient world's most famous writers, before later falling to raids by Vikings and Scots. It's in County Durham, 230 miles north of London.
5. Escomb Saxon Church
Along River Wear, Durham, and built around 675, the church has a 7th-century sundial and an engraved Roman stone embedded in its walls. The church retains its medieval appearance and is one of three complete Anglo-Saxon churches in England.
6. Parish Church of St. Mary, Deerhurst
Deerhurst, Gloucestershire, is a village with two Saxon churches. Historians believe the rather unusual architectural flourishes in this church, built around 800, reflect influences of the reign of Charlemagne.
7. Odda's Chapel, Deerhurst
Odda's Chapel was curiously lost within a timber-framed farmhouse built around it, undiscovered until 1865. Both Deerhurst churches are part of a 7th-century medieval priory 110 miles west of London.
8. All Saints' Church, Brixworth
Oxford historian Sir Arthur Clapham called this "perhaps the most imposing architectural memorial of the 7th century yet surviving north of the Alps." Built prior to King Wulfhere's death in 675, All Saints' is located in Northamptonshire, 60 miles north of London.
9. St. Peter, Britford
The nave of St. Peter in lovely Salisbury, Wiltshire, is thought to date from 800, while other parts of the building are believed to be of 8th-century origin. Salisbury is 90 miles southwest of London.
10. All Saints Church, Wing
Pretty, old, and easy to reach, All Saints Church is 45 miles northwest of London. Here, you can see Roman tiles in the ceiling of the crypt. All Saints dates to about 950, but its apse is even earlier; there has been a church on this site for more than 1,300 years.
by Laurie Jo Miller Farr
Top: Britain is full of very old churches like this one, St. Mary's Church in Kent. (Photo by Daniel Bosworth/VisitBritain)
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