Parish holidays in UK

This item appears on page 16 of the February 2012 issue.

For many years throughout the British Isles, the “parish holidays” program was a fund raiser for Anglican churches. For many American visitors, it offered a joyful way to participate in local life and customs at a very reasonable cost. Since 2005, my husband, Lou, and I have enjoyed three parish holidays. The program officially came to an end in 2010, but I was happy to learn that in 2011 an independent parish holiday was being offered in Bridgnorth, Shropshire, July 5-12. Nine of us, from Mississippi, Maine, Maryland and Michigan, enjoyed lovely accommodations with parish families, who provided trips to and from the airport, when needed, plus all meals, transportation and entrance fees to so many wonderful places, all for $1,327 per person. (Shropshire is a treasure trove of historic towns, houses, churches and museums.) One does not have to be Anglican to participate, nor is church attendance required, although we really enjoyed sharing a service with our hosts. Happily, another parish, that of Dobcross, Saddleworth, in West Yorkshire outside of Manchester, is planning their own independent parish holiday for May 19-27, 2012. We visited there in 2006 and loved seeing the James Herriot Museum, Chatsworth House, the examples of “well dressing” in Derbyshire, and York Minster. We can highly recommend visiting this beautiful place and the lovely people in Dobcross. Readers can e-mail us c/o ITN and we will be happy to write or phone you with more information. CORY PEPOY Holland, MI Barbara Hopkinson, host and coordinator for the Dobcross parish holidays, wrote to ITN, “Our itinerary isn’t fixed until we have some bookings so that we can tailor the trips to visitors. The price is $1,400 per person. This includes accommodation, meals, excursion fees and visits. We aren’t a big parish and couldn’t cope with more than 12 guests. “We plan to take five full-day excursions, which might include, in addition to more famous sites, Saddleworth Museum & Art Gallery, a Roman fort dating to AD 80, Morris dancing, Bronte’s countryside and the Yorkshire Dales.” Contact Barbara Hopkinson, Riverside, 12 School Rd., Uppermill, Saddleworth, West Yorkshire, OL3 6HB, U.K.; phone 01457 874012 or e-mail