In Europe, Glamping Moves Into Historic Churches (3/11/2019)

Story by Woodall's Campground Management


A room at one of the churches that allows glamping.A room at one of the churches that allows glamping.


Editor's Note: This story was written by Angela Youngman for Mobile Rving's The Buzz. 

Camping and glamping are familiar options – but how about Champing? Welcome to a whole new camping concept courtesy of the UK-based Churches Conservation Trust, who has now trademarked the name.

Champing is a unique British invention, and has already aroused interest in several other countries.  It sets out to be an answer to the problem of maintaining historic churches that no longer have active congregations.  Set up many years ago, the Churches Conservation Trust is a charity responsible for over 350 churches, most of which of great historical interest and are listed buildings which have to be conserved due to their architecture, archaeology and art resulting from over 1,000 years of English history.  By putting the churches into the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, the buildings are kept open for a wide variety of purposes such as event spaces, art centers, farmers markets, cafes and even a circus school. The trust is always looking for new ideas, new ways to keep the churches open for community use. 

In 2016, volunteers at a rural church, All Saints in Aldwincle, Northamptonshire had an idea – why not let individuals and small groups camp out overnight within the building.  Initially it was one off event – but it worked and demand grew.  As a result, the Churches Conservation Trust looked at ways of extending the concept to include other churches. 

Champing manager, Neil Best, explains.  “The scheme started in a small way and it has grown steadily with over 20 churches now involved. More churches are added each year. It is for people of all faiths or none.  All we ask is that people respect the historic building and the fact that it is consecrated.”

Facilities are basic.  Anyone booking to use a Champing church will be provided with a camp bed, kettle, battery operated lanterns and candles, and bathroom facilities. Wax candles are not allowed. They are expected to bring their own sleeping bag and pillow, or can hire these from the church. Parking is available beside the church. Participants can bring snacks, but meals have to be taken in local pubs or restaurants.  There are no cooking facilities.

Champing costs $65 (or £49.00) per person per night. Pre-booking is essential. All bookings are made through a central booking line, and paid in advance.  This provides the right to exclusive use of the church between x and x.  During the day, the camp beds are folded away as the church is open to the public to visit and explore.  There may even be events taking place within the building. The churches remain consecrated for worship holding up to six Sunday services each year.

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