BBC Series: Walks of life
Four CCT feature in an eight-part BBC series called Walks of Life, which is currently showing on Sunday mornings. Walks of Life, presented by Mehreen Baig and JB Gill, explores the fascinating cultural and spiritual narratives found throughout the Great British countryside – including churches! Each episode focusses on a different area of the British Isles, from Aberdeen to Cornwall. The presenters invite the audience along on a specially curated walk which explores modern attitudes to religion, belief and society’s relationship with the landscapes around us.
Each episode is organised around a theme; which includes the literary, historical, geographical and artistic. These include following in the footsteps of Wordsworth in the Lake District and trekking the wild moors of the Cairngorms National Park that once entranced Queen Victoria.
The church of St James’ Cooling in Kent, features in a Dickens-themed episode where Kevin, keyholder and Chairman of ‘the friends of St. James’, takes presenter Mehreen through the history of the church and how it provided inspiration for Dickens’ novel, Great Expectations. Here Mehreen explores the unique vestry, lined with cockle shells and enjoys the view from the top of the tower.
In an episode featuring the longest British river, the Severn, JB visits spots along the way, which includes vineyards, castles and two CCT churches, Wroxeter and Shrewsbury, both located in Shropshire. St Andrews, Wroxeter is built on the Roman site of Viroconium, the fourth largest town of Roman Britain, and the evidence for the ancient town is everywhere. Here JB meets a group of Champers who are staying the night in the church. One of them is Marie, a CCT volunteer, who takes JB around the church and shows him the ancient font which is made from an inverted Roman column base and more Roman columns which now flank the entrance to the churchyard.
Further on in his journey, JB visits St Mary’s Shrewsbury, which has one of the best collections of medieval stained glass in the country, the masterpiece being the East window, also known as the Jesse Window, dating from 1350. JB finished his walk at Shrewbury castle, overlooking the river.
The Church of St Michael & All Angels, Princetown in Devon features in an episode focusing on a walk in Dartmoor, one of Britain’s first national parks. Here JB enjoys a 12-mile circular walk from Princetown, the area’s highest village. This simple church was built between 1812-14 by prisoners captured in the Napoleonic Wars with France, and the War of 1812 with the United States - they were held at nearby Dartmoor prison. JB admires the east window which contains stained glass of 1910 in memory of the American prisoners who helped to build the church.
Throughout the series, JB and Mehreen have met fascinating and inspiring people from different areas of the British Isles, uncovering the stories behind some spiritually significant places located along the way. We are delighted to have our churches showcased in this first series of Walks of Life and hope to be featured in the next series. You can catch up with walks of life at: bbc.co.uk/iplayer. We hope to have the walks mapped on our website soon, so that you can follow in the footsteps of Mehreen and JB.