They weren’t all that pious in the good old days

You need to be wary of being too flattering about English churches. As John Betjeman said: ‘Be careful before you call Weymouth the Naples of Dorset. How many Italians call Naples the Weymouth of Campania?’ Even so, the rise of the English medieval church was extraordinary. As early as 1200 there were 9,500 churches in England — all built since 597, when St Augustine started his mission to the English at Canterbury. And lots of them are still there. Our Anglo-Saxon, Norman and Gothic churches must be the highlight of our architectural history, just ahead of our country houses. But how did the English use their churches? Step forward Nicholas

Will churches open their doors as lockdown eases?

The grumbling of high church clergy should now lessen a bit. They were complaining, in some cases furiously, about the Chuch of England’s decision to go further than the law required when it came to the lockdown, telling clergy not to open their churches at all, and not to broadcast services from them. Some were threatening to re-fight the Reformation over the issue, saying that low-church Welby would really rather preach from his own kitchen than admit that churches are a necessary site of authentic sacramental worship. The Church has now relaxed its rules, allowing vicars to pray in their churches and broadcast services from them. And the Church has started