Two Suffolk churches have benefitted from this year’s summer staycation “boom” after seeing a significant rise in visiting tourists.
The Revd Simon Pitcher, vicar at Southwold’s St Edmund Church, said both St Edmund and St Andrew’s Church in Walberswick have seen a surge in visitors this summer, which he attributes to the coronavirus pandemic impacting international travel.
Rev’d Pitcher said: “We have certainly seen an increase in the number of tourists both in Southwold and Walberswick, from summer through to now. People come here because of our gorgeous coastline and countryside, it is a nice and safe place to bring the family for that ‘home from home’ feeling. Southwold is a very pretty church so it is nice to see tourists coming to admire it. We have seen significant increases in donations and souvenir sales.”
Towns and villages across Suffolk have benefited from increased tourist footfall over the summer, with east Suffolk proving a popular destination for those looking to get away.
Churches are not only beautiful places to visit, they also provide refuge for those in need of prayer or support.
Simon said he and his congregation are always happy to see more people visit the church, be it for quiet prayer, to use the prayer tree or just for a look around. He said: “We have seen a lot of returning faces who visit on their holiday every year, so it has been nice to see them again. And we are seeing a lot of new faces too. Many people come in for private prayer or to have a look around, but our prayer tree has been very popular among newcomers. So many of the cards on the prayer tree are written by people we don’t know, and we share them on their behalf.”
The churches are expecting to see an increase in visitors during the October half-term, with Suffolk’s churches proving a popular place for families to visit.
Simon added he believes it important to visit churches while on holiday. “There are some really lovely churches out there,” he said. “They really make you feel at home.”
Tourist trails for our churches can be found on the Angels and Pinnacles website: www.angelsandpinnacles.org.uk.