Chance to meet Bill Bryson, Michael Palin, Bettany Hughes in 'Save our Churches' online auction

Bill Bryson OBE

Bill Bryson OBE

Tea and cake at a top London restaurant with Bill Bryson OBE, a personal guided tour of the Chapel of St Peter and St Paul in Greenwich with Michael Palin OBE and joining TV historian and author Bettany Hughes OBE on location, are just some of the 'money-can't-buy' lots going under the hammer in the National Churches Trust's new 'Save our Churches' online auction, raising funds to help pay for urgent repairs to the nation's churches.

Other items include exclusive behind the scenes tours of York Minster, Lincoln Cathedral and St Paul's Cathedral.

Taking part in the National Churches Trust's online auction is easy. Bidding opens today and runs until midday on Friday 22 November 2019. Full details at

Latest figures from Historic England, published in October, show that there are 913 places of worship on the 2019 'Heritage at Risk' register, up from 911 in 2018. Last year, National Churches Trust grants helped to remove 23 churches from the 'Heritage at Risk' register.

The National Churches Trust is the charity supporting places of worship of historic, architectural and community value used by Christian denominations throughout the UK. In 2018 it provided grants to support 202 repair and maintenance projects at churches and chapels in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Bill Bryson OBE, whose latest book The Body: A Guide for Occupants is shooting up the best-seller list, is a great fan of Britain's churches.

Bill said: " Tea and cake and historic churches make a great combination. If there is one thing that is even more quintessentially British than afternoon tea it has to be our historic churches."

"One of the things that's always struck me since the first day I came here more than 40 years ago was that what makes the the British countryside glorious is the church. I mean every single view that you could think of that you've ever been knocked out by has a church in the middle of it."

"I'm hoping that the bids to join me for tea and cake are suitably generous as our historic churches need a lot of money to keep their wonderful history and architecture safe for the future."

Bettany Hughes, author, historian and television presenter whose latest book Venus and Aphrodite is published 14 Nov 2019 said:

"It's great to support the work of the National Churches Trust saving the UK's historic churches. I was really excited to be asked to help out with the 'Save our Churches' auction and am looking forward to showing someone how a TV history programme is made."

Claire Walker, Chief Executive of the National Churches Trust said: "I'm delighted that Bill Bryson, Michael Palin and Bettany Hughes are amongst those supporting our work of restoring and revitalising our nation's churches by giving their time so generously for our 'Save our Churches' online auction. Churches and chapels are some of the UK's most important historic buildings but many are under threat from leaking roofs, crumbling stonework and rotting timbers. Our 'Save our Churches' online auction, open to everyone, will help raise much needed funds to keep church buildings open and looking beautiful."


On location with Bettany Hughes OBE

Enjoy a morning or afternoon on set with Bettany Hughes OBE, award-winning historian, author and broadcaster. Bettany will welcome a maximum of two people on location as she films her latest programme.

Tea and cake with Bill Bryson OBE

Tea for four people at the prestigious Delauney Restaurant in central London with Bill Bryson OBE. Bill will talk about his love of churches, entertain you with anecdotes and promises not to eat all the cakes!

Michael Palin OBE, tour of the Chapel of St Peter and St Paul at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich

Visit the Chapel of St Peter and St Paul at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich with Michael Palin.

Michael will show a party of up to four people around this fascinating chapel and talk about its history, which includes a marble memorial commemorating Sir John Franklin and the crews of the ships Erebus and Terror who lost their lives in the ill-fated expedition of 1845 to search for the North West Passage.

A week in South West France

A week in a beautiful house sleeping 14 guests in South West France at the foothills of the Pyrenees.

Perfect for extended families or groups of friends alike, everyone finds a corner of the 45 acres to fall in love with. Whether it's the huge garden with its orchard, herbs, terraces, BBQ and luxury pool that delights in 13 hours of sun a day; the courtyard bordered by beautiful 13th Century barns or the oak and chestnut woods, swings, trails, dens and meadows.

Tea in the House of Lords

Lord Cormack, Vice President of the National Churches Trust for afternoon tea in the magnificent House of Lords.

Lord Cormack has a keen interest in heritage as the Founder and Chair of Heritage Matters and a Fellow of the Historical Society.

Royal memories

A copy of 'Memories of 90 Years' lovingly written by Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester and signed by her son, the NCT's Vice Patron HRH The Duke of Gloucester KG, GCVO, making this an exclusive memento signed by a member of the Royal Family.

Published in the year of her 90th birthday, these reminiscences from Princess Alice, offer insights into a bygone age.

Framed prints of historic churches

Selections of framed prints of churches from across the UK. The stunning prints were collected over many years by former National Churches Trust Friend and supporter David Johnston. In immaculate condition, and beautifully framed, they make an attractive feature for any wall. David's wife has kindly donated the prints to the National Churches Trust as she knows he would have wanted them to be enjoyed by fellow church lovers.

Tour of Lincoln Cathedral

A rare opportunity for up to four people to tour this famous cathedral guided by Nicholas Rank, Architect and Surveyor to Lincoln Cathedral. The tour includes seeing the medieval 13th century stained glass at close hand and the roof spaces which are not normally open to the public. There is an added opportunity to be able to visit the masonry workshops to witness conservation taking place. Also included is free entry to Lincoln Castle which houses the Cathedral's copy of the Magna Carta and the imposing Victorian prison and a free night's accommodation in a local hotel.

Tour of York Minster

An exclusive tour for four of York Minster led by their Master Mason. The prize will also include a visit to the York Glaziers Trust for a close-up look at their stunning stained glass projects. The day includes a scaffold tour, a visit to the Chapter House roof and the famous Masons Loft.

Tour of St Paul's Cathedral

A bespoke tour for up to four adults of St Paul's Cathedral, led by former Precentor, Revd. Lucy Winkett and an expert guide. The tour will include the cathedral's treasures including the triforium and Wren's Great Model. It ends with reserved seats in the Quire to hear the world famous choir of St Paul's sing Evensong.

Taking part in the National Churches Trust's online auction is easy. Bidding opens today and runs until midday on Friday 22 November 2019. Full details at

Tags: Bill Bryson, National Churches Trust, Auction, Michael Palin, Bettany Hughes

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