Enthusiasm continues to grow amongst glamping afficionados for holidaying in listed churches. Indeed, this type of holiday has even spawned its own sub-genre – “Champing”.
“Champing” is a pioneering new concept from The Churches Conservation Trust. Staying the night amidst the tranquility of a Grade I or II* listed church offers a delightful ‘slow tourism’ escape from the modern world.
In 2015 300 ‘champers’ stayed at four different sites in Kent, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire. Indeed, demand has been such that the Trust has recently has expanded its range of break locations to ten sites.
10 locations to choose from
‘Champers’ can now select from ten churches for their break. They may choose to sleeping under the carved angels at The Church of St Michael and All Angels in Booton, Norfolk.
They may revel in the Medieval simplicity of All Saints’ Church in Aldwincle, Northamptonshire. Or they may bed down in a box pew at the Church of St Mary the Virgin in Fordwich, Kent.
Champing adventures cost £55 per person per night, including breakfast. Discounts: £20 for children under 16 and £50 per person for groups of over 8 people.
An inventive way to encourage the exploration of our churches
Guests have the church building to themselves for the night, and time to explore the surrounding countryside by day.
Alongside the standard champing break, CCT can also suggest activities to complement stays at their churches. These include leisurely walks, canoeing adventures, storytelling and yoga.
Peter Aiers, Director of The Churches Conservation Trust in the South East, said: ‘I love historic parish churches and there is no better way to enjoy their beauty and tranquillity than by staying the night. Absorb the history in your own time as you have exclusive access to your Champing church. Champing is such an exciting innovation for the Trust. It gives greater access to our wonderful churches, sustains them for the future and supports the local economy”
Minister for Heritage, Tracey Crouch, said: “The Trust does fantastic work protecting many of our important historic churches and making them accessible to the public. The “Champing” scheme has proved a hugely popular and inventive way to encourage people to explore church buildings.
As Minister for both Heritage and Tourism, this helps to ensure that the rich history in churches isn’t lost.”
The ten Champing™ destinations all have their own charms. These range from Northamptonshire’s Nene Valley to the rich heritage and horseracing pedigree of Cambridgeshire. Fordwich’s proximity to the World Heritage Site of Canterbury contrasts with and the beauty of the River Stour.
CCT has just launched a brand new website at www.champing.co.uk. This offers information on all the churches in the Champing scheme, and an online booking facility.
The Churches Conservation Trust
The Churches Conservation Trust is the national charity saving historic churches at risk. It is charged with protecting 347 beautiful church buildings that attract 2 million visitors a year. The Trust’s collection includes irreplaceable examples of architecture, archaeology and art from 1,000 years of English history.
The Trust is the operator of the third largest heritage estate in charitable ownership in the UK. It has an international award-winning reputation in heritage conservation and regeneration. All of its churches are listed, mostly Grade I and II*, and some are Scheduled Ancient Monuments.
Without the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, the buildings they look after might have disappeared entirely. Instead they are enjoyed as social, tourism, educational or cultural resources. They are kept open, in use, and living once again in the heart of communities. All the Trust’s churches, including All Souls Bolton, remain consecrated and are used for occasional worship.
For more, see www.visitchurches.org.uk