Pagans and Pilgrims: Britain's Holiest Places

Fri, 22 March 2013

'Pagans and Pilgrims: Britain's Holiest Places' is a six-part series on BBC Four following the footsteps of our holy ancestors across some of the most beautiful and moving parts of Britain.

Watch the Dean in interview on BBC Four, Thursday 28 March

The series is based on the highly acclaimed book ‘Britain's Holiest Places' by Nick Mayhew Smith.

Next week’s episode called ‘Shrines’ features an interview with the Dean of St Albans Cathedral and will be well worth viewing.

In this episode presenter Ifor ap Glyn sets out to understand the appeal of shrines. For those outside the Catholic and Orthodox church there is something vaguely unsettling about shrines. How can venerating the bones of a dead person bring you closer to God?

From the unlikely starting point of Marc Bolan's roadside shrine in Barnes, Ifor embarks upon perhaps his most surprising journey. Along the way he learns that Scotland's largest city only exists because of a shrine and visits the newly-renovated shrine of St David in Wales.

At St Albans Cathedral he learns that shrines are slowly but surely starting to creep back into the Anglican mainstream and that rather than meeting resistance they are being actively embraced. After viewing a genuinely shocking relic in Westminster Cathedral he meets with the Catholic archbishop Vincent Nichols, who has a radical theory about how the return of shrines represents the final chapter of the Reformation, and that is all down to Princess Diana.

Finally, after seeing some of the finest cathedrals in the land, Ifor ends his journey at a tiny church on the fringe of Snowdonia, one which is home to a shrine that many people consider the holiest place in Britain.

To order a copy of Britain's Holiest Places by Nick Mayhew Smith please contact the Cathedral Book Shop on 01727 890217.

To view past episodes and to find out more visit:

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