...his East Anglian church sites are streaked with it because the churches he (mostly) celebrates were built and ordered to house spiritual practices that are either dead or dying- most notably those of medieval Catholicism and high Victorian Anglicanism- and as a practising but broad-minded Roman Catholic he regrets them both. He's a good writer so his mood rubs off on the reader.
Which, to be frank, I rather resent. Melancholy is absolutely not what I feel when I'm visiting churches. The spiritual practices of our ancestors served them (or they thought they did) but I'm more than happy not to be feeling pressurised to fund a college of priests to pray for my soul or buy an indulgence or sit on a hard seat to hear a long sermon then rise to sing a missionary hymn. They left a great deal of beauty behind, which I thank them for, but our ancestors were in the grip of an oppressive system; I got a taste of the sort of thing that it was when I was younger and am glad to have kicked it off.
I like visiting the ancestors; I find them a lively bunch. The stuff they've left behind in churches is the casing of past selves- much of it quite amusing and jolly. I don't hold with their beliefs, but then neither do they any longer because they've moved on.
Death? Bah, there's really no such thing.