With 544 pages in full colour, it includes hundreds of images and listings expressing the dazzling variety of spiritual encounters just waiting to be experienced anew.
It is both a guide book that opens every site up to the casual visitor, and a travelogue recording some of the extraordinary adventures to be had when interacting with 2,000 years of Christian history. Every location has been described in a way that also allows modern visitors to engage with our ancestors' beliefs, traditions and practices.
Some of it would greatly surprise modern understanding of spiritual experience in general and Christian attitudes in particular. From a medieval nun who bathed naked every day to a miraculously bleeding tree, from the first holy emperor to some of the world’s oldest Christian artworks – Britain is packed with an unlikely and fascinating heritage of faith.
Britain’s Holiest Places surveys the entirety of 2,000 years of British Christian history, through the places and people that make it happen. It is enlightening, invigorating and controversial. At times its stories are painful and shocking, others uplifting and enlightening – but always unexpected.
The icy waters of Holywell, still used for bathing today
(1,200 years longer than Lourdes)
The world’s oldest mosaic of Christ
(found in Dorset, now in British Museum)
The saint who met the Loch Ness Monster in the 6th century
(first recorded Nessie sighting)
Evidence of very early Christian activity at Glastonbury
(the surprising facts behind the Holy Grail legend)
The black African who introduced England's first education system
(St Adrian, who lived in the 7th century)
A miracle tree in an ancient churchyard weeping red sap
(it still drips today like a bleeding wound)
Ancient Christian paintings as old as the Catacombs in Rome
(found in Kent in 1939)
The room where Baptists held their first meetings
(now part of a country house in Gainsborough)
The Saxon nun famous for praying naked in a river every night
(she lived to a very old age)
A radioactive underground holy pool, still usable after 1,500 years
(in a remote woodland in Cornwall)
The world’s first nature reserve, on the Farne Islands
(run by a 7th century holy man who preached to wild birds)
The palace where the first Christian emperor was crowned
(Constantine the Great, in York)
The original Quaker meeting house
(William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, is buried here)
The world’s oldest wooden church, built 1,000 years ago
(in Essex, just off the M25)