HEREFORD Diocese, which includes Ludlow, will host a second Festival of Churches later this year promising an event 'bigger and better' than that which brought up to 15,000 visitors to the county first time around.

Last year's festival was over a single weekend, this year it is spread over several days between September 6 and September 21.

“We reckon between 12,000 and15,000 people visited the 250 plus churches that were taking part in the first ever Festival of Churches last year,” said Jenny Beard, one of the event organisers.

“We hope a similar number will take part over the three counties of Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire, if not more, to make it not only bigger but an even better event than 2013.”

The Festival of Churches is being organised by The Shropshire and Herefordshire Historic Churches Trusts, Hereford Churches Tourism Group and Shropshire Churches Tourism Group, The Diocese of Hereford and the Diocese of Worcester.

In 2013 the event took place over the second weekend in September only.

“We listened to feedback and churches felt there was too much going on and they needed a bigger window of time to show off what our churches have to offer,” said Christine Tinker, spokesperson in Shropshire for the festival.

“Also, those involved in their own church event complained they could not go to some events they really wanted to attend from reading the events programme or checking out the website," she said.

The Festival of Churches is a way of churches putting on special events to encourage both local people and visitors from further afield to step through the church door.

Last year, events ranged from exhibitions of photographs, wedding dresses, Hereford cattle, church histories to several flower festivals, lectures, church trails, churchyard events and homemade food.

Some of the more unusual happenings include a breakfast and sausage Trail in Clungunford and compline and chocolate at Pensax.

Parishioners are now being invited to sign their churches up to the festival as a three year project.