2 years ago
When most people think of a camping trip, they imagine the basics: a campsite, tent, fire, and sweet relief from the bustle of the life. Not much else—certainly no house of worship.
The Churches Conservation Trust in England has put their own spin on that age-old concept, melding the camping experience with visiting England’s historic countryside churches. They’re calling the phenomenon “champing,” and it involves just what you’d expect—sleeping bags and candles set up inside the medieval/historic churches that dot the English countryside. Recent locations have included St. Peter & St. Paul in Albury in the Surrey Hills and St. Mary the Virgin in Fordwich; and the trust tells RealClearLife that 2017 will see 12 churches available of its 350, with reservations beginning on Jan. 20. (The season itself begins March 31st and runs through Sept. 30.) The foundation tells RealClearLife that the oldest church in their 2017 champing portfolio is St. Andrew’s Church in Wroxeter, Shropshire, which dates back to the 8th century.
You’re literally handed the key to the church, so you can leave and return as you please. And the solitude and pin-drop silence of the stone structure’s interior does a good job of mimicking that of the great outdoors (plus, there’s no old lady in the pew next to yours to shush you).
Of course, the “champing” experience isn’t just about your unique accommodations. The towns where these churches were built have their own enjoyable outdoor and indoor activities available; and the trust will arrange traditional English meals at local pubs, canoeing trips, and meditation sessions.
A night of “champing” starts at about $23, and includes a country breakfast. It may also be the one and only time you’ll ever get to spend the night in a Medieval abbey. To book a night or two, click here.