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Visiting an Old Church Only to Find the Doors Closed

Visiting an old church outside of regular worship services can sometimes be impossible one traveler found.


Visiting an old church outside of regular worship services can sometimes be impossible.

If you thought the last visitor to have trouble would be the bishop then you thought wrong. It turns out that even prelates are turned away from historic churches and cathedrals.

The Roman Catholic bishop of Portsmouth says every church he tried to visit was closed.

Just ask the Right Rev. Philip Egan, the Roman Catholic bishop of Portsmouth in England.

Egan is in the news for taking to Twitter and complaining that every church he attempted to visit recently was locked up.

While not ideal many churches keep their doors closed outside of Sunday morning.

Some cite financial reasons, saying they can't afford to have staff on-duty. Others believe the risk of theft or vandalism — many of the oldest churches contain religious art worthy of museums — is too high to leave the doors open.

Regardless of the reason, many of these closed churches will at least post a notice informing those wishing to visit where they can find a keyholder.

That may seem ideal, but experts warn a locked church has a higher risk.

Ecclesiastical, the largest insurer of Church of England congregations, tells policyholders that criminals are deterred by an open church because of the possibility that anyone can stop by and visit. Meanwhile, the Roman Catholic insurer, Catholic National Mutual Limited, advises than open church doesn't increase insurance premiums.

The best advice for church crawlers is to confirm opening hours by telephone or email before showing up.

Yes, many churches list hours on their website, but sometimes things come up that force an otherwise open church to close.

And don't be afraid to ask a nearby neighbor if you do show up and find the doors locked and no keyholder notice posted.

The chances are, at least in a small English village, that someone will know someone with a key.

Spires and Crosses is published every week.

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