IN A PERFECT world churches should be able to keep those big oak doors wide open.

But it is a sad sign of the times that, as far as the villain is concerned, nothing is sacred.

Churches have become rich pickings for thieves and targets for mindless vandals.

Many of these buildings have to be kept under lock and key when they are not being used for services.

But on Saturday, November 1 - All Saints' Day - churches across the borough of Eastleigh will be swinging their doors wide open to the public.

It is all the idea of Brian O'Neill, who lives in Eastleigh and is also tour guide for the borough council.

Brian, pictured outside All Saints Church Botley, has such a keen interest in church buildings that they are always top of the must-visit list on a family holiday. He said: "Wherever we are we always pop into a church because they have so much history and tell you so much about the area."

He said: "All too often we hear of churches around us having to restrict their opening times to the public because of the risk of items or money in the church being stolen.

"Members of the public who might like to browse around their local church or study its fine architecture or just relax and think or pray are sometimes being denied this privilege."

It was with this in mind that Brian, 52, decided to contact churches across the borough to see if they would open up their doors for All Saints' Day.

He got a good response and one of the 13 churches taking part will be Botley's 19th century All Saints. The church will be open from 10am to 5pm.

Brian has produced a special leaflet with a brief description of each church and the facilities available.

Other churches open are: Bishopstoke Methodist (10am to 4pm); Holy Cross, Eastleigh (10am to 5pm); St Andrew's, Hamble (10am to 4pm); St Boniface, Chandler's Ford (10am to 5pm); St Leonard's, Bursledon (9.30am to midday); St Edward the Confessor, Chandler's Ford (10am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm); St Edward the Confessor, Netley Abbey (9am to 5pm); St Martin in the Wood, Queens Road, Chandler's Ford (10am to 5pm); St Mary's Church, Bishopstoke (10am to 4pm); St Mary the Virgin, Hound (10am to 5pm); St Paul's, Bursledon (10am to 2pm) and St Thomas, Fair Oak (10am to 5pm).