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9 Kent churches offering something out of the ordinary

From crazy golf to a helter skelter, churches up and down the country are coming up with all manner of quirky ideas to encourage more people to attend.

And Kent is not holding back on getting involved.

Below is a list of nine churches in the county worth a visit, even if you are not the usual pew dweller.

Minster Abbey in Sheppey hosts annual pet services
Minster Abbey in Sheppey hosts annual pet services

1. Crazy golf

Rochester Cathedral

A free crazy golf course in Rochester Cathedral caused quite the stir when it first opened less than two weeks ago.

The nine-hole course, named Fairway to Heaven, is "just about having a bit of fun".

Reverend Matthew Rushton assures there is still plenty of space for people to worship in peace.

Rochester Cathedral crazy golf opened on Saturday
Rochester Cathedral crazy golf opened on Saturday

It came about after the Archbishop of Canterbury said "You've got to have fun in cathedrals" at a national conference last year.

Themed around bridges, Fairway to Heaven will be in the medieval church's nave until September 1.

Rochester Cathedral will then become temporary home to the Knife Angel - a 27-foot sculpture made of knives surrendered to police.

2. Hangover service

St Gabriel's, Kings Hill

Reverend Mark Montgomery of St Gabriel's
Reverend Mark Montgomery of St Gabriel's

A church is launching Sunday afternoon services to allow revellers time to nurse their hangovers.

Church bosses realised "the night out the day before" could be a reason why people are unable to attend Sunday service.

They accept the habits and routines of local people have changed and so are opening up new opportunities for those who are busy during traditional worshipping hours - whether that's playing football, visiting family members or recovering from a night out.

A 4pm service will be held at Valley Invicta Primary School from September on the second and fourth Sunday of each month.

3. Nightclub service

St John's the Divine, Chatham

St John's is holding services in Tap 'n' Tin nightclub
St John's is holding services in Tap 'n' Tin nightclub

St John's has been holding their Sunday service in a nightclub next door for more than a year now.

Tap 'n' Tin has allowed the church to hold the service in their premises while St John's undergoes construction work.

Vicar Reverend Carol Morgan describes St John's as small, informal and inclusive, and feels the nightclub service has made it more approachable and accessible to those who aren't interested in traditional church service.

4.Pimms and Hymns

St Peter's Church, Rochester

Pimms and Hymns will be held at the end of August
Pimms and Hymns will be held at the end of August

For those who fancy a relaxed summer service, a Rochester church has the answer.

Enjoy a glass of fruity, ice-cold Pimms and belt out the tunes at St Peter's Pimms and Hymns.

The service will be held on Sunday, August 28 from 5pm.

Other light refreshments will also be available at the Delce Road church.

5. Pet blessing

Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral pet blessing service last year
Canterbury Cathedral pet blessing service last year

Canterbury Cathedral has a special pet service planned in honour of all furry friends.

Animals will be blessed by the Dean and get a certificate to take home.

This is the second time pets have been invited to a service at the cathedral.

The first saw all manner of creatures in attendance, including tortoises, cats and dogs.

Caitlin Underwood with the Rev Cindy Kent at Minster Abbey
Caitlin Underwood with the Rev Cindy Kent at Minster Abbey

The free service will be held at The Oaks on Sunday, October 6 from 2pm to 3pm.

Minster Abbey in Sheppey also hosts annual pet services, with a three-legged cat and duck named Puddle among the alumni.

This year's service will be held outside the abbey on September 29.

6. Archbishop of Canterbury Wetherspoon Question Time

Canterbury Cathedral

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

The Archbishop of Canterbury held a special Question Time in very alternative venue last year.

Justin Welby invited worshippers to Ramsgate's Wetherspoon pub, the Royal Victoria Pavilion.

Punters got to sip their pints while the principal leader of the Church of England answers questions.

It was part of a week-long series of visits by the Archbishop to Thanet.

7. Skull collection

St Leonard's Church, Hythe

1,022 skulls are stacked on shelves in St Leonard's Church
1,022 skulls are stacked on shelves in St Leonard's Church

St Leonard's is home to the largest and best-preserved collection of ancient human skulls and bones in Britain.

Remains of around 4,000 people including 1,022 skulls are stacked on shelves within The Ossuary.

They are thought to be the bones of Hythe residents who had been buried in the churchyard and were dug up in the 13th century when the church was extended.

21 of the skulls were stolen last year
21 of the skulls were stolen last year

However, 21 of the skulls were stolen last year. Staff fear they have been sold on the black market.

The display is open for the summer season on Monday to Saturday from 11am to 1pm and 2pm to 4pm, and Sunday from 2pm to 4pm.

On a lighter note, St Leonard's also held a pet service last month, welcoming everything from dogs to guinea pigs.

8.Royal tomb

St Mary of Charity Church, Faversham

St Mary of Charity Church in Faversham. Picture: Google street view
St Mary of Charity Church in Faversham. Picture: Google street view

St Mary in Faversham is one of the few churches outside London where an English king is buried.

The tomb of the reputed King Stephen is laid here.

Stephen was king of England from 1135 to his death in 1154.

The church also has an unusual crown-style spire - an appropriate marking for a king.

9. The Church House, Snodland

An organ stands in the dining area of The Church House in Snodland
An organ stands in the dining area of The Church House in Snodland

When service ends at a church, due to lack of funds or dwindling numbers, they can have other uses.

Dave and Melissa Skelton worked for six years to turn a run down church into a stylish home worth almost £1 million.

With original features including an organ and stone pulpit, the couple managed to find the perfect balance between old and new, creating a stylish and comfortable home.

For more quirky and unusual stories, click here

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